A multi-scale comparison of dissolved Al, Fe and S in a boreal acid sulphate soil

Seija Virtanen, Asko Simojoki, Hannu Rita, Janne Toivonen, Helinä Hartikainen, Markku Yli-Halla

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

    6 Citations (Scopus)


    Acid sulphate (AS) soils are most prevalent in the tropics, but the acidic discharge from cultivated AS soils also threatens water bodies under boreal conditions. Feasible options to reduce the acid load are needed. In this study, the groundwater of an AS field was monitored for 3.5 years, and the efficiency of waterlogging in mitigating the environmental risks caused by acidic discharge was investigated in a 2.5-year experiment with 10 monolithic lysimeters taken from the same field. In order to unravel the transferability of the results from lysimeters to the field scale, the Al, Fe and S concentrations in discharge water from the lysimeters were compared with those in the groundwater of the AS field (pedon and field scale), and in pore water (pedon and horizon scale). In the waterlogged bare lysimeters (HWB), the Al, Fe and S concentrations in discharge waters were broadly similar to those measured in the groundwater and followed the changes in the pore water. In the waterlogged cropped (reed canary grass, Phalaris arundinacea) lysimeters (HWC), in contrast, the discharge waters were markedly higher in Fe and lower in Al than the groundwater in the field. This outcome was attributable to the reduction of Fe3+ to the more soluble Fe2+ and the reduction-induced increase in pH, which enhanced the formation of Al3+ hydroxy species. Lowering of the water table (LWC) caused soil ripening, which resulted in increased saturated hydraulic conductivity and porosity and enhanced the oxidation of sulphidic materials and acid formation. The responses of Al, Fe and S in drainage waters from HWC and LWC lysimeters resembled previous findings in AS soils. Based on this and the similarity between dissolved element concentrations in the discharge water of HWB lysimeters and groundwater in the field, we conclude that our monolithic lysimeters yielded realistic results concerning the efficiency of various methods in mitigating environmental risks related to cultivated AS soils. (C) 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
    Original languageUndefined/Unknown
    Pages (from-to)336–348
    Number of pages13
    JournalScience of the Total Environment
    Publication statusPublished - 2014
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


    • Aaluminium
    • Acid sulphate soil
    • Iron
    • Scales
    • Similarity
    • Sulphur

    Cite this