Hydrofluoric acid pre-treatment for improving 13C CPMAS NMR spectral quality of forest soils in south-east Queensland, Australia.
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Hydrofluoric acid (HF) was used to pre-treat forest soils of south-east Queensland for assessing the effectiveness of iron (Fe) removal, carbon (C) composition using 13C cross-polarisation (CP) with magic-angle-spinning (MAS) nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) before and after the HF pre-treatment, and the improvement of 13C CPMAS NMR spectra. Soil samples were collected from 4 experimental sites of different soil types, harvest residue management or prescribed burning, and tree species. More than 86% of Fe was in all soil types removed by the HF treatment. The 13C NMR spectral quality was improved with increased resolution, especially in the alkyl C and O-alkyl C regions, and reduced NMR run-time (1-5 h per sample compared with >20 h per sample without the pre-treatment). The C composition appeared to alter slightly after the pre-treatment, but this might be largely due to improved spectrometer conditions and increased resolution leading to more accurate NMR spectral integration. Organic C recovery after HF pre-treatment varied with soil types and forest management, and soluble soil organic matter (SOM) could be lost during the pre-treatment. The Fourier Transform-Infrared (FT-IR) spectra of HF extracts indicated the preferential removal of carboxylic C groups during the pre-treatment, but this could also be due to adsorbed water on the mineral matter. The NMR spectra revealed some changes in C composition and quality due to residue management and decomposition. Overall, the HF treatment was a useful pre-treatment for obtaining semi-quantitative 13C CPMAS NMR spectra of subtropical Australian forest soils.
Australian Journal of Soil Research