James Petersen

University of Vermont, Burlington, VT, United States

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Publications (5)5.71 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Amazonian Dark Earths (ADE) are a unique type of soils developed through intense anthropogenic activities that transformed the original soils into Anthrosols throughout the Brazilian Amazon Basin. We conducted a comparative molecular-level investigation of soil organic C (SOC) speciation in ADE (ages between 600 and 8700 years B.P.) and adjacent soils using ultraviolet photo-oxidation coupled with 13C cross polarization-magic angle spinning nuclear magnetic resonance (CP-MAS NMR), synchrotron-based Fourier transform infrared-attenuated total reflectance (Sr-FTIR-ATR) and C (1s) near edge X-ray absorption fine structure (NEXAFS) spectroscopy to obtain deeper insights into the structural chemistry and sources of refractory organic C compounds in ADE. Our results show that the functional group chemistry of SOC in ADE was considerably different from adjacent soils. The SOC in ADE was enriched with: (i) aromatic-C structures mostly from H- and C-substituted aryl-C, (ii) O-rich organic C forms from carboxylic-C, aldehyde-C, ketonic-C and quinine-C, and (iii) diverse group of refractory aliphatic-C moieties. The SOC in adjacent soils was predominantly composed of O-alkyl-C and methoxyl-C/N-alkyl-C structures and elements of labile aliphatic-C functionalities. Our study suggests that the inherent molecular structures of organic C due to selective accumulation of highly refractory aryl-C structures seems to be the key factor for the biochemical recalcitrance and stability of SOC in ADE. Anthropogenic enrichment with charred carbonaceous residues from biomass-derived black C (BC) is presumed to be the precursor of these recalcitrant polyaromatic structures. Our results also highlight the complementary role that might be played by organic C compounds composed of O-containing organic C moieties and aliphatic-C structures that persisted for millennia in these anthropic soils as additional or secondary sources of chemical recalcitrance of SOC in ADE. These organic C compounds could be the products of: (i) primary recalcitrant biomolecules from non-BC sources or (ii) secondary processes involving microbial mediated oxidative or extracellular neoformation reactions of SOC from BC and non-BC sources; and stabilized through physical inaccessibility to decomposers due to sorption onto the surface or into porous structures of BC particles, selective preservation or through intermolecular interactions involving clay and BC particles.
    Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 02/2007; · 3.88 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Black Carbon (BC) may significantly affect nutrient retention and play a key role in a wide range of biogeochemical processes in soils, especially for nutrient cycling. Anthrosols from the Brazilian Amazon (ages between 600 and 8700 yr BP) with high contents of biomass derived BC had greater potential cation exchange capacity (CEC measured at pH 7) per unit organic C than adjacent soils with low BC contents. Synchrotron-based near edge X-ray absorption fine structure (NEXAFS) spectroscopy coupled with scanning transmission X-ray microscopy (STXM) techniques explained the source of the higher surface charge of BC compared with non-BC by mapping cross-sectional areas of BC particles with diameters of 10 to 50 mm for C forms. The largest cross-sectional areas consisted of highly aromatic or only slightly oxidized organic C most likely originating from the BC itself with a characteristic peak at 286.1 eV, which could not be found in humic substance extracts, bacteria or fungi. Oxidation significantly increased from the core of BC particles to their surfaces as shown by the ratio of carboxyl-C/aromatic-C. Spotted and non-continuous distribution patterns of highly oxidized C functional groups with distinctly different chemical signatures on BC particle surfaces (peak shift at 286.1 eV to a higher energy of 286.7 eV) indicated that non-BC may be adsorbed on the surfaces of BC particles creating highly oxidized surface. As a consequence of both oxidation of the BC particles themselves and adsorption of organic matter to BC surfaces, the charge density (potential CEC per unit surface area) was greater in BC-rich Anthrosols than adjacent soils. Additionally, a high specific surface area was attributable to the presence of BC, which may contribute to the high CEC found in soils that are rich in BC.
    Soil Science Society of America Journal 01/2006; 70:1719-1730. · 1.82 Impact Factor
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    12/2003: pages 29-50;
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    Michael J. Heckenberger, James B. Petersen, E. Neves
    Latin American Antiquity 12/1999; 10(4).
  • J. B. Petersen, E. G. Neves, M. J. Heckenberger