Plant and Soil

, Volume 362, Issue 1–2, pp 33–36 | Cite as

Why are aggregates destroyed in low intensity fire?



Soil structure is often severely affected during high intensity burning, while low intensity prescribed burning has often been thought to have a low or neutral effect on soil aggregation. In this issue of Plant and Soil, (Albalasmeh et al. 2012) report a novel mechanism of aggregate disruption during low intensity burning that may explain some contradictory results reported in previous studies. Albalasmeh et al. (2012) suggest that during rapid heating of moist soil aggregates, intra-aggregate water is vaporized and the increased pressure causes rupture of the internal bonds and leads to aggregate breakdown. This mechanism can be compared to the aggregate breakdown due to slaking, when dry aggregates are suddenly wetted or submerged in water. Identification of the reasons for the aggregate disruption at low temperatures is important for choosing optimal soil and weather conditions for prescribed fires.


Soil aggregate Fire Prescribed fire Soil aggregate stability 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Royal Society Research Fellow, College of Science, Department of GeographySwansea UniversitySwanseaUK

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