Stepwise Rock-Eval pyrolysis as a tool for typing heterogeneous organic matter in soils

M. Hetényi, T. Nyilas, T. M. Tóth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

33 Citations (Scopus)


This paper presents an application of Rock-Eval pyrolysis for estimating the proportion of the components with different thermal stability in soil organic matter, the maturity of which corresponds to the early stage of diagenesis. For testing the validity of the modified Rock-Eval method, parallel series of pyrolysis were carried out on sedimentary rock samples. The temperature program was selected on the basis of the results obtained from stepwise Rock-Eval pyrolyses and from the mathematical deconvolution of pyrograms. The proportion of the original biomolecules in soil organic matter was calculated by the integration of pyrograms below 350 °C and could be determined rapidly by one single pyrolysis using 350 °C as initial cracking temperature. At 380 °C, both the mathematical and the experimental methods provide reliable information about the proportion of the humic substances. Conversely, for rock samples, mathematical deconvolution of the pyrograms showed the heterogeneity of the sedimentary organic matter, the maturity of which corresponds to late diagenesis, without any estimation of the proportion of the different components. The rate of organic carbon accumulation in the studied soils and the decomposition rate of biopolymers were interpreted as a function of land-use and redox conditions. Differences in the precursor vegetation and in the environmental parameters resulted in markedly reduced carbon storage and higher degree of humification in the agricultural soil than in the adjacent forest soil. Redox conditions strongly affected both the amount and the elemental composition of the stored organic matter. The decomposition rate of biopolymers appeared to be controlled mainly by the contribution of resistant lignin components to the source biomass and, to a lesser extent, by redox conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-54
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Analytical and Applied Pyrolysis
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2005


  • Decomposition rate of biopolymers
  • Land-use
  • Rock-Eval
  • Soil organic matter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Fuel Technology

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