Soil organic carbon within the vadose zone of a floodplain

  • X. Li
  • G. Feng
  • B. Sharratt
Original Article


Past studies have focused on carbon variation in the upper 1 m of the soil profile. However, there is limited information on carbon variation at deeper depths (e.g., 0–4 m) and mathematical functions to extrapolate carbon content at these depths. The objective of this study was therefore to assess the vertical variation in SOC (reached 4 m) of the Tarim River floodplain in northwestern China. The vertical distribution in SOC was described by exponential and power functions based on (1) soil depth, (2) soil depth and silt content, (3) soil depth and SOC at the shallowest and deepest depths, (4) soil depth, silt content, and SOC at the shallowest and deepest depths, and (5) soil depth and SOC at the shallowest depth. We found SOC content decreased with depth from 6.82 g kg−1 at 0–0.2 m to < 1.0 g kg−1 below 3.2–3.4 m averaged across five locations along the floodplain. Both the power and exponential functions provided a good fit to the measured data in the upper 1 m of the soil profile, whereas the power function provided a better fit to the data when extrapolating to a depth of 3–4 m. The power function describing SOC as a function of soil depth, silt content, and SOC at the shallowest and deepest depths best portrayed the distribution in SOC with depth. Considering the cost and labor in measuring soil properties, our results suggest that SOC at the shallowest depth can provide good estimates of the vertical distribution in SOC in a floodplain.


Soil profile Soil texture Tarim River 



This research was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 41571035) and Youth Innovation Promotion Association CAS (2017477).


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Desert and Oasis Ecology, Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and GeographyChinese Academy of SciencesUrumqiChina
  2. 2.USDA-Agricultural Research ServiceMississippi StateUSA
  3. 3.USDA-Agricultural Research ServiceWashington State UniversityPullmanUSA

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