From the Bureau of Economic Geology, The
University of Texas at Austin (www.beg.utexas.edu).
For more information, please contact the author.
Bureau Seminar, March 27, 2009
Biogeochemistry of charcoal in the environment: Carbon cycle roles and
carbon sequestration options
Charcoal and soot, also called black carbon, are the solid remains of combustion and pyrolysis. Black carbon plays a major role in terrestrial and marine carbon cycling because it is both highly refractory and highly reactive. As a refractory material it accumulates preferentially in soils and marine sediments, and as a reactive material it sorbs other forms of organic matter and reactive nitrogen. Its efficiency at sorbing both organic and inorganic materials makes it a ‘game-changer’ in soils and terrestrial ecosystems, altering the direction of soil and ecosystem development. Black carbon’s dual refractory/reactive characteristics and natural abundance in soils make it a strong target for carbon sequestration projects as well. In this talk I will go through the natural roles of black carbon in soils and marine environments and discuss the options for greenhouse gas abatement through soil black carbon (biochar) amendment.