Geological controlling soil organic carbon and nitrogen density in a hillslope landscape, semiarid area of Golestan province, Iran

Document Type: Research Paper


1 Department of Soil Science, Faculty of Water and Soil Engineering, Gorgan University of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Gorgan, Iran

2 Soil and Water Research Institute (SWRI), Agricultural Research, Education and Extension Organization (AREEO), Tehran, Iran

3 Department of Forestry Science, Gorgan University of Agriculture and Natural Sciences, Gorgan, Iran

4 Institute of Geography, University of Cologne, Cologne, Germany


The effects of geological conditionwere assessed on density of Soil Organic Carbon (SOC) and Nitrogen (N)in a sequence of hillslope landscape, derived from different lithology i.e. loess deposit, reworked loess, marl with mixed siltstone and shale, reddish brown clay deposits and older loess in the semiarid area of northern Iran. However, other factors can influence SOC and N density such as land use, topography and climate with geology, pasture land use have been selected with a homogeneous climate to study their influence on density SOC and N of different lithology. Total of 108 soil samples were selected from two layers of 0-20 cm (surface) and 20-40 cm (subsurface). Results showed higher amount of SOC and N density, Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC) and silt were in surface layer of loess deposit that is related to vegetation density and root growth in this material than other conditions. On the contrary, the amounts of mentioned parameters were the lowest in marl. However, there was no significant difference between density of SOC and N in subsurface layer, but trend changes was similar with the surface. Overall, results show that there is a correlation between geological conditions and storing SOC and N. In conclusion, protection of surface and subsurface soil is important to increase density of SOC and N. Especially, overgrazing on steep slope of marl must be reduced or prohibited because rate of carbon loss to the atmosphere was significant and it is important in a changing environment from landscape to global scale.


Ajami, M., A. Heidari, F. Khormali, M. Gorji, Sh. Ayoubi, 2016. Environmental factors controlling soil organic carbon storage in loess soils of a subhumid region, northern Iran. Geoderma, 281; 1–10.

Alijani, Z., F. Sarmadian, 2015. The role of slope and parent material in the formation of landform. African Journal of Agricultural Research, 10 (30); 2989-2994.

Barré, P., H. Durand, C. Chenu, P. Meunier, D. Montagne, G. Castel, D. Billiou, L. Soucémarianadin, L. Cécillon, 2017. Geological control of soil organic carbon and nitrogen stocks at the landscape scale. Geoderma, 285; 50–56.

Blake, GR., KH. Hartage, 1986. Bulk density. In: Klute, A. (Ed.), Methods of soil analysis. Part 1, Physical and Mineralogical Methods. 2nd ed., Agronomy, p. 363-382.

Bremner, J.M., 1996. Nitrogene-total. In: Bigham, et al. (Eds.), Methods of Soil Analyses, Part III, Chemical Methods. SSSA, Madison, WI; p. 1085– 1184.

Chapman, H.D., 1965. Cation exchange capacity. In: Black, C.A. (Ed.), Methods of Soil Analysis, Part 2. American Society of Agronomy, Madison, WI, USA.

Cournane, F.C., R. Mc Dowell, R. Littlejohn, L. Condron, 2011. Effects of cattle, sheep and deer grazing on soil physical quality and losses of phosphorus and suspended sediment losses in surface runoff, Agriculture Ecosystems and Environment, 140; 264- 272.

De Vos, B., N. Cools, H. Ilvesniemi, L. Vesterdal, E. Vanguelova, S. Carnicelli, 2015. Benchmark values for forest soil carbon stocks in Europe: results from a large scale forest soil survey. Geoderma, 251-252; 33–46.

Frechen, M., M. Kehl, C. Rolf, R. Sarvati, A. Skowronek, 2009. Loess chronology of the Caspian Lowland in Northern Iran. Quaternary International, 128(1-2); 220-233.

Gee, G.W., J.W. Bauder, 1986. Particle-size analysis. In: Klute, A. (Ed.), Methods of Soil Analysis. Part 1, Physical and Mineralogical Methods, 2nd ed., Agronomy, 9; 383–411.

Gruba, P., J. Socha, 2016. Effect of parent material on soil acidity and carbon content in soils under silver fir (Abies Alba Mill.) stands in Poland. Catena, 140; 90–95.

Hossein Jafari, S., M.R. Tatian, R. Tamartash, A.A. Karimian, 2014. Wildlife and Livestock Grazing Effects on Some Physical and Chemical Soil Properties (Case Study: Kalmand-Bahadoran Arid Rangelands of Yazd Province). Desert, 19-1; 57-63.

Jenny, H., 1994. Factors of Soil Formation. Dover, New York. p. 281.

Joneidi Jafari, H., 2013. Relationship between Root Biomass and Soil Organic Carbon: Case study of Arid Shrub Lands of Semnan Province. Desert, 18; 173-176.

Johnson, A.H., H.X. Xing, F.N. Scatena, 2015. Controls on soil carbon stocks in El Yunque National Forest, Porto Rico. Soil Science Society American Journal, 79; 294–304.

Kehl, M., R. Sarvati, H. Ahmadi, M. Frechen, A. Skowronek, 2005. Loess paleosol-sequences along a climatic gradient in Northern Iran. Eiszeitalter u. Gegenwart, 55; 149-173.

Khormali, F., M. Ajami, Sh. Ayoubi, Ch. Srinivasarao, S.P. Wani, 2009. Role of deforestation and hillslope position on soil quality attributes of loess-derived soils in Golestan Province, Iran. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, 134; 178–189.

Khormali, F., M. Kehl, 2011. Micromorphology and development of loess-derived surface and buried soils along a precipitation gradient in Northern Iran. Quaternary International, 234; 109–123.

Lacoste, M., B. Lemercier, C. Walter, 2011. Regional mapping of soil parent material by machine learning based on point data. Geomorphology, 133; 90–99. 

Lal, R., 2004. Soil carbon sequestration impacts on global climate change and food security. Science, 304; 1623–1627.

Lozano-García, B., L. Parras-Alcántara, E.C. Brevik, 2016. Impact of topographic aspect and vegetation (native and reforested areas) on soil organic carbon and nitrogen budgets in Mediterranean natural areas. Science of the Total Environment, 544; 963–970.

Maniyunda1, L., M.B.A. Raji, M.G. Gwari, 2013. Variability of Some Soil Physicochemical Properties on Lithosequence in Funtua, North - Western Nigeria. International Journal of Science and Research (IJSR), 2(9); 174-180.

Maleki, S., F. Khormali, A.R. Karimi, 2014. Mapping soil organic matter using topographic attributes and geostatistic approaches in Toshan area, Golestan province, Iran. Journal Soil Research, 28; 459-468. (In Persian, with English abstract).

Nadeu E., JM. Quiñonero-Rubio, J. De Vente, C. Boix-Fayos, 2015. The influence of Catchment morphology, lithology and land use on soil organic carbon export in a Mediterranean mountain region. Catena, 126; 117–125.

Nelson, D.W., L.E. Sommers, 1982. Total carbon, organic carbon, and organic matter. In: Page, A.L. (Ed.), Methods of Soil Analysis, Part 2.American Society of Agronomy, Madison. WI, p. 539–579.

Naseri, H.R., 2014. Carbon sequestration potential in soil and stand of Nitraria schoberi L. Desert, 19-2; 167-172.

Soil Survey Staff., 2014. Keys to Soil Taxonomy. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Tazikeh, H., F. Khormali, A. Amini, M. Barani Motlagh, Sh. Ayoubi, 2017. Soil-parent material relationship in a mountainous arid area of Kopet Dagh basin, North East Iran. Catena, 152; 252–267.

Vanguelova, E.I., T.R. Nisbet, A.J. Moffat, S. Broadmeadow, T.G.M. Sanders, J.I.L. Morison, 2013. A new evaluation of carbon stocks in British forest soils. Soil Use Management, 29; 169–181.

Wang, X., H. Wei, M. Taheri, F. Khormali, G. Danukalova, F. Chen, 2016. Early Pleistocene climate in western arid central Asia inferred from loess-palaeosol sequences. Scientific Reports in nature.

Wiesmeier, M., R. Hübner, F. Barthold, P. Spörlein, U. Geuss, E. Hangen, A. Reischl, B. Schilling, M. von Lützow, I. Kögel-Knabner, 2013. Amount, distribution and driving factors of soil organic carbon and nitrogen in cropland and grassland soils of southeast Germany (Bavaria). Agriculture Ecosystem and Environment, 176; 39–52.

 Yang, X., M. Williams, 2015. Landforms and processes in arid and semi-arid environments. Catena, 134;