Articles | Volume 6, issue 12
10 Dec 2009
 | 10 Dec 2009

Rates of biogeochemical phosphorus and copper redistribution in young floodplain soils

F. Zehetner, G. J. Lair, M. Graf, and M. H. Gerzabek

Abstract. Nutrients and trace metals in river-floodplain systems may originate from anthropogenic activities and/or geogenic sources. Here, we analyze a soil chronosequence (2 to approximately 600 years) on a floodplain at the Danube River (Austria) to quantify the rates of P and Cu redistribution among biogeochemical pools during early soil formation under temperate continental climate. While bulk and clay mineralogy remained unchanged over the studied age gradient, we found considerable (mostly non-linear) redistribution of P and Cu among biogeochemical pools. The calcium-associated P and Cu fractions decreased rapidly during the initial decades of soil formation. The dissolution of calcium-associated P was mirrored by marked accumulation of organic P. Copper incorporated within resistant minerals showed a relative enrichment with soil age. The mean dissolution rates of calcium-associated (primary mineral) P decreased exponentially with increasing soil age from ~1.6 g m−2 yr−1 over ~15 years to ~0.04 g m−2 yr−1 over ~550 years, and were almost an order of magnitude higher than rates reported for tropical environments. Our study demonstrates that on riverine floodplains, rapid biogeochemical transformations can occur within the first centuries of soil formation under temperate climatic conditions.

Final-revised paper