A method for the analysis of the δ18O of inorganic phosphate extracted from soils with HCl

F. Tamburini*, S. M. Bernasconi, A. Angert, T. Weiner, E. Frossard

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

125 Scopus citations


The oxygen isotope composition of phosphate (δ18O-PO4) has successfully been used to study the biological cycling of phosphorus (P) in seawater and marine sediments. However, only a few studies have used this approach in soils. In order to analyse δ18O-PO4, phosphate must be extracted from the soil, purified and converted to silver phosphate (Ag3PO4). The published extraction methods, successfully applied to marine waters and sediments, lead to the precipitation of impure Ag3PO4when used with soils or organic-rich samples. Here we present an improved purification protocol, designed for soils and other organic-rich samples. After extraction with HCl, phosphate is purified with multiple mineral precipitations that do not require extreme pH adjustments of the solutions. We show that contaminant-free Ag3PO4 can be produced from fertilizers and various soils with different chemical and physical characteristics. Our first isotopic results confirm that differences in P status and availability in soils are expressed in the δ18O-PO4 signal, indicating the potential of this isotopic tracer to understand P dynamics in soil systems.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1025-1032
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Soil Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2010


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