DOI:https://doi.org/10.3232/SJSS.2015.V5.N1.08

Fe and Al leaching in soils under laboratory-controlled burns

Javier Cancelo-González, Diego M. Prieto, Francisco Díaz-Fierros, María Teresa Barral

Abstract

The influence of the severity of soil heating on aluminium and iron leaching was analysed, as well as its relationship with the solubility of organic matter. For this purpose, laboratory experiments were carried out under microcosm conditions where unaltered soil blocks were submitted to thermal shock and subsequently to rainfall simulation (300 mm), collecting the surface (0 cm) and subsurface runoff (12 cm). Soil heating was carried out using infrared lamps reaching temperatures of 222 and 401 ºC at a depth of 1 cm, similar to those reached in moderate and high intensity fires respectively. The analysis of the drainage waters showed that the leaching of Al increased with the severity of the thermal shock, whereas for Fe perceptible effects were only seen at the highest temperature. Geochemical modelling with Visual MINTEQ indicated that Al and Fe were fundamentally mobilised and associated with dissolved organic matter. Weak interactions (electrostatic binding) predominated in the case of Al and strong interactions (bidentate complexes with dissolved organic matter) in the case of Fe. Only towards the end of the leaching experiment, when the concentration of dissolved organic carbon decreased, was there a perceptible mobility of Al and Fe in the inorganic form, in the subsurface leachate of the moderate temperature treatment.

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