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XANES spectroscopy as a tool to trace phosphorus transformation during soil genesis and mountain ecosystem development from lake sediments

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Published copy (DOI)


  • C. Giguet-Covex
  • J. Poulenard
  • E. Chalmin
  • F. Arnaud
  • C. Rivard
  • J. P. Jenny
  • J. M. Dorioz


Publication details

JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
DateE-pub ahead of print - 1 May 2013
DatePublished (current) - 1 Oct 2013
Number of pages19
Pages (from-to)129-147
Early online date1/05/13
Original languageEnglish


The aim of this study is to investigate phosphorus (P) species modifications triggered by soil genesis and mountain ecosystem development after glacial retreat using a lake sediment archive (Lake Anterne, North French Alps). Five lake sediment samples, representative of different stages of soil and ecosystem development, were selected for P speciation analyses. Furthermore, a sequence of current soils from the catchment was analyzed to better constrain our interpretations of the lacustrine archive. Synchrotron techniques (X-ray Fluorescence (XRF) mapping and P K-edge X-ray absorption near edge structure (XANES) spectroscopy) were applied to lake sediments, soils, and standards (mineral and organic) to distinguish between different P species. The results show that soil development during the first millennia of the Holocene triggered increased P species diversity. At the onset of the Holocene, P was present as apatite when rocks and leptosols dominated the catchment. Pedogenic processes then led to apatite dissolution and the formation of large amounts of P on metal/clay-organic complexes. P geochemistry during the main step of soil genesis (early leptosols dominated by apatite, low weathered cambisols with P mainly adsorbed on iron oxides, highly weathered podzols with large amounts of P on Al/Fe/clay organic complexes) is thus clearly recorded in lake sediments. P K-edge XANES spectroscopy is particularly relevant as qualitative method to study P species in soils and lake sediments at high spatial resolution. Such resolution is needed to reveal the diversity of small P particles and like this better characterize the P cycle and improve our understanding of ecosystem evolution.

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