Andic Soil Properties and Tephra Layers Hamper C Turnover in Icelandic Peatlands

Susanne Claudia Möckel*, Egill Erlendsson, Guðrún Gísladóttir

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Due to frequent volcanic activity and erosion of dryland soils, magnified by land use after human settlement (ca. 870 CE), peatlands in Iceland receive regular additions of mineral eolian deposits. Their soils may develop not only histic but also andic characteristics. Yet, mineral eolian deposition as an environmental determinant of peatlands in Iceland is still poorly understood, not least with regard to the peatlands carbon (C) stores. This study advances our understanding of the impact of tephra deposition on Histosols by elucidating interactions between C characteristics and andic soil properties. We compare Histosols from three Icelandic peatlands of different degrees of exposure to eolian deposition by evaluating data sets of their C structure derived by 13C NMR spectroscopy, andic soil properties based on selective extractions of Al, Fe, and Si, and decomposition proxies C/N, δ13C, and δ15N. By applying multivariate statistical methods, we are able to present several important patterns. Soil organic matter of Histosols with andic properties is less decomposed than that of Histosols without notable andic properties. Andic soil properties seem to impact their C structure by facilitating the formation of organo-mineral complexes, which particularly hamper the decomposition of chemically more labile C groups. Tephra layers appear to hamper microbial activity in deeper soil layers by preventing input of fresh organic matter. The interaction of andic and histic soil properties and the protective role of major tephra deposits may enable an unusual potential for long-term C stabilization in a natural peatland environment.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2021JG006433
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021. The Authors.

Other keywords

  • C NMR spectroscopy
  • andic soil properties
  • Histosols
  • organo-mineral interactions
  • tephra deposits


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