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Modeling organic carbon bound in clay and silt particles in highly weathered lateritic soils of the Central Highlands of Vietnam

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We assessed the soil organic carbon (SOC) stock in the highly weathered lateritic soils of the Central Highlands of Vietnam. For this purpose, soils sampled at 37 locations under native conditions across an area of 50,000 km2 and elevations ranging from 30 m to 1,500 m were characterized for SOC and a suite of soil properties, climate characteristics, and the erosion tracer 137Cs content. Using these interrelated soil characteristics, we built a factor model of five factors that could explain 93% of the SOC variance and 86% of the total variance in the input dataset. SOC was associated with clay and silt particles in the two factors. The binding between SOC and clay particles promotes the protection and storage of organic matter in soils. In the meantime, soil erosion affects the silt-bound SOC, resulting in its depletion at the eroded locations and accumulation at the accreted locations. The modeled SOC stocks (mean ± standard deviation) in clay minerals were 99 ± 47 Mg ha−1 in Ferrasols (19 locations), and 68 ± 35 Mg ha−1 in Acrisols (18 locations), which account for approximately 75% of the observed SOC in 0 – 30 cm topsoil. The remaining SOCs bound in silt particles were 21.4 ± 9 t ha−1 and 37.7 ± 15.3 t ha−1 in eroded and accreted locations, respectively. Ferrasols store significantly more SOC than Acrisols because they contain more clays associated with Al-sesquioxides, formed during the final weathering stage of lateritic soils. The findings in this study related to SOC in native soils can serve as a reference to further assess the impacts of land use changes over the recent five decades on the stocks and dynamics of SOC in the Central Highlands.

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Correspondence to P. S. Hai.

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Hien, P.D., Hai, P.S., Thien, T.Q. et al. Modeling organic carbon bound in clay and silt particles in highly weathered lateritic soils of the Central Highlands of Vietnam. Model. Earth Syst. Environ. 9, 4077–4084 (2023).

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