Stabilization of carbon in mineral soils from mangroves of the Sinú river delta, Colombia

Heidi Völkel, Jhoanata M. Bolivar and Carlos A. Sierra

Wetlands Ecology and Management, 1-12 , doi:10.1007/s11273-018-9621-z, 2018


Mangrove forests of the Sinú river delta in Cispatá bay, Colombia, show large differences in soil carbon storage between fringe (oceanic) and basin (estuarine) mangroves. We were interested in testing whether these differences in soil carbon are associated with sediment transport processes or whether most of the carbon is produced in situ within the mangrove system. Given past sedimentation dynamics of the Sinú river, we hypothesized that a large portion of soil carbon in basin mangroves is due to sedimentation. We determined total organic carbon content (TOC) as 660.93 ± 259.18 MgC ha−1 for basin soils up to a sampling depth of 1 m, and as 259 ± 42.61 MgC ha−1 for fringe soils up to 80 cm depth (maximum soil depth for fringe soils). Using analyses of mineralogy (Al- and Fe-oxides, clay minerals) as well as isotopic analyses of carbon (δ13C), the origin of the sediments and their carbon was determined. We found that basin soils in Cispatá bay show similar mineralogical composition than those of fluvial sediments, but the carbon concentration of river sediments was close to zero. Given the large capacity of the Fe and Al oxides in clay minerals to store dissolved carbon, and that the isotopic composition of the carbon is mostly of plant origin, we concluded contrary to our initial hypothesis that the carbon stored in basin mangrove soils are produced in situ. The deposited fluvial sediments do play an important role for carbon storage, but mostly in providing binding surfaces for the stabilization of organic carbon.

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For additional information, contact: Carlos A. Sierra

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