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The influence of weathering and soil organic matter on Zn isotopes in soils

Opfergelt, S.; Cornélis, J.T.; Houben, D.; Givron, C.; Burton, K.W.; Mattielli, N.

The influence of weathering and soil organic matter on Zn isotopes in soils Thumbnail


S. Opfergelt

J.T. Cornélis

D. Houben

C. Givron

N. Mattielli


Zinc is an essential micronutrient that is ultimately released during mineral weathering. In soils, organic matter plays a key role in influencing Zn partitioning and therefore on Zn biogeochemical cycling. Soil organic matter is partitioned between carbon that is more readily available for decomposition by microorganisms, and more stable carbon transiently preserved from decomposition. The role of the stable pool of soil organic matter on Zn biogeochemical cycling remains poorly understood. The pool of stable carbon is controlled by combination with mineral constituents or is material that is intrinsically resistant to decomposition. The Zn stable isotopes are fractionated by interactions between Zn and soil mineral and organic constituents. This study reports the Zn isotope composition of five Icelandic soil profiles derived from the same parent basalt and characterized by contrasting degrees of weathering and organic matter content (δ66Zn = + 0.10 ± 0.05 to + 0.35 ± 0.02‰), the distribution of reactive mineral constituents available to form associations with soil organic matter, and the amount of stable organic carbon. Throughout these soils, the δ66Zn isotope variations are little influenced by mineral constituents, but rather by soil organic matter content. These data suggest that a combination of organic matter accumulation and Zn loss by leaching is required to explain the observed decrease in Zn concentration in soils and lighter soil δ66Zn with increasing organic carbon content. These results suggest that the presence of stable organic carbon in soils provides a pool of light Zn, attributed to the Zn isotope signature of organic matter partially preserved from decomposition. Crucially, this stable organic carbon pool may also contribute to the formation of the light Zn isotope sink reported in organic-rich marine sediments, a key output required to explain the oceanic mass balance of Zn isotopes.


Opfergelt, S., Cornélis, J., Houben, D., Givron, C., Burton, K., & Mattielli, N. (2017). The influence of weathering and soil organic matter on Zn isotopes in soils. Chemical Geology, 466, 140-148.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 4, 2017
Online Publication Date Jun 10, 2017
Publication Date Jun 10, 2017
Deposit Date Sep 12, 2017
Publicly Available Date Jun 10, 2018
Journal Chemical Geology
Print ISSN 0009-2541
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 466
Pages 140-148


Accepted Journal Article (732 Kb)

Copyright Statement
© 2017 This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license

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