Accumulation and composition of total organic carbon in reclaimed coal mine lands Academic Article uri icon


  • Reclaimed coal mine lands have the potential to sequester atmospheric carbon (C); however, limited information exists for the western USA coalfields. This study was carried out on two chronosequences (BA-C3 grasses and DJ-shrubs) of reclaimed sites at two surface coal mines to determine the effects of vegetation, soil texture, and lignin content on soil total organic carbon (TOC) accumulations. In the BA chronosequence, TOC increased over 26 years at an average rate of 0.52MgC ha-1 yr-1 in the 0-30 cm depth and was significantly correlated with clay content. Comparison between < 1 and 16-year-old stockpile soils indicated TOC content did not differ significantly. In the DJ chronosequence, TOC content in the 0-30 cm depth declined from 31.3 Mg ha-1 in 5-year-old soils to 23.4 Mg ha-1 in 16-year-old soils. The C:N ratios suggested that some (up to 2.0 per cent) of the TOC was potentially derived from coal particles in these reclaimed soils. Soil total N (TN) contents followed a similar trend as TOC with TOC and TN concentrations strongly correlated. Lignin contents in TOC of all reclaimed soils and topsoil stockpiles (TSs) were higher than that of nearby undisturbed soils, indicating the recalcitrant nature of TOC in reclaimed soils and/or possibly the slow recovery of lignin degrading organism. Results indicated that TOC accumulations in DJ were largely controlled by its composition, particular lignin content. In BA sites TOC accumulation was strongly influenced by both clay and lignin contents. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

author list (cited authors)

  • Ganjegunte, G. K., Wick, A. F., Stahl, P. D., & Vance, G. F.

citation count

  • 45

publication date

  • December 2008