Characteristics and sorption properties of charcoal in soil with a specific study of the charcoal in an arid region soil of Western Australia

Claire McMahon

    Research output: ThesisMaster's Thesis

    264 Downloads (Pure)


    [Truncated abstract] Fire creates charcoal from the partial burning of biomass which results in a biologically inert form of carbonaceous (non-living) organic matter that, once integrated into soil and sediments, can persist for long periods of time. Charcoal has a large surface area with a high sorptive capacity for organic and inorganic substances. As a repository for metal and non-metal elements charcoal has been given little, if any, attention in the fields of geochemistry, agriculture and environmental monitoring . . . Despite the differences in charcoal surface area, soil charcoal achieved nearly 100% sorption of 0.5 and 5 μg/g Au from 0.03 M NaCl and 0.01M Ca(NO3)2 solution, almost independent of solution pH. At low pH, charcoal sorbed between 10 and 60% of Cu with initial additions of 2 and 20 μg Cu/g. Similarly, between 15 and 40% of Zn was sorbed by charcoal with initial additions of 5 and 40 μg Zn/g. The role of surface area in sorption of elements by charcoal is clearly only one factor that is important. Charcoal aromatic and aliphatic chemical functional groups, which can be distinguished from other forms of organic matter through spectroscopic determination, are also important in charcoal’s capacity to sorb elements. Accumulation of Be, B, Na, Mg, Al, Si, K, Ca, Ti, Mn, Co, Ni, Cu, Se, Mo, Ba, Au and Pb (out of a range of 29 elements) in soil charcoal, above the concentrations in the matrix soil and plant reference charcoal, was confirmed by ICP-MS analysis. Concentrations of V, Mn, Co, Ni, Cu, Mo, Ba, Au, Pb and Bi were higher in soil charcoal than in values quoted for gossans and pisolites in the field area region (Smith and Perdrix, 1983). Higher values of Au in soil charcoal were associated with considerable amounts of included clay minerals and higher values of other elements including Mo, Mn and Fe.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusUnpublished - 2006


    Dive into the research topics of 'Characteristics and sorption properties of charcoal in soil with a specific study of the charcoal in an arid region soil of Western Australia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this