Application of DRIFTS, 13C NMR, and py-MBMS to Characterize the Effects of Soil Science Oxidation Assays on Soil Organic Matter Composition in a Mollic Xerofluvent

Kimberly Magrini, Bob Evans, Andrew Margenot, Francisco Calderon

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16 Scopus Citations


Chemical oxidations are routinely employed in soil science to study soil organic matter (SOM), and their interpretation could be improved by characterizing oxidation effects on SOM composition with spectroscopy. We investigated the effects of routinely employed oxidants on SOM composition in a Mollic Xerofluvent representative of intensively managed agricultural soils in the California Central Valley. Soil samples were subjected to oxidation by potassium permanganate (KMnO4), sodium hypochlorite (NaOCl), and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). Additionally, non-oxidized and oxidized soils were treated with hydrofluoric acid (HF) to evaluate reduction of the mineral component to improve spectroscopy of oxidation effects. Oxidized non-HF and HF-treated soils were characterized by diffuse reflectance infrared Fourier transform spectroscopy (DRIFTS), 13C cross polarization magic angle spinning (CP-MAS) nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, and pyrolysis molecular beam mass spectrometry (py-MBMS), and for particle size distribution (PSD) using laser diffractometry (LD). Across the range of soil organic carbon (OC) removed by oxidations (14-72%), aliphatic C-H stretch at 3000-2800 cm-1 (DRIFTS) decreased with OC removal, and this trend was enhanced by HF treatment due to significant demineralization in this soil (70%). Analysis by NMR spectroscopy was feasible only after HF treatment, and did not reveal trends between OC removal and C functional groups. Pyrolysis-MBMS did not detect differences among oxidations, even after HF treatment of soils. Hydrofluoric acid entailed OC loss (13-39%), and for H2O2 oxidized soils increased C:N and substantially decreased mean particle size. This study demonstrates the feasibility of using HF to improve characterizations of SOM composition following oxidations as practiced in soil science, in particular for DRIFTS. Since OC removal by oxidants, mineral removal by HF, and the interaction of oxidants and HF observed for this soil may differ for soils with different mineralogies, future work should examine additional soil and land use types to optimize characterizations of oxidation effects on SOM composition.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1506-1518
Number of pages13
JournalApplied Spectroscopy
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2017

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5100-68308


  • diffuse reflectance infrared fourier transform spectroscopy
  • drifts
  • nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy
  • oxidation
  • potassium permanganate
  • py-mbms
  • pyrolysis molecular beam mass spectrometry
  • sodium hypochlorite
  • soil organic matter


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