Spatial analysis of phosphorus sorption capacity in a semiarid altered wetland

M. I. Litaor*, O. Reichmann, M. Belzer, K. Auerswald, A. Nishri, M. Shenker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


The observed increase in phosphorus (P) loading into the Jordan River could increase eutrophication processes in Lake Kinneret, the only freshwater lake in Israel, which provides 25% of the country's drinking water. The P may originate from the peat soils of the highly altered Hula Valley's semiarid wetland ecosystem through which the Jordan River runs. The objectives of this research were to ascertain the sorption capacity of these soils and to identify areas with high potential for P release from soils to ground water. We extracted 80 soil samples collected across the valley with ammonium oxalate and determined the ratio of extractable P to Fe and Al, from which we derived the degree of phosphorus saturation (DPS). A relatively low DPS (<15%) was observed in Histosols compared with the high DPS (>30%) observed in many of the hydromorphic organo-mineral soils. We used a sequential Gaussian simulation technique to assess the spatial pattern of the DPS and found that the Histosols have a low probability (<10%) of exceeding the widely used environmental DPS threshold of 25%. The areas characterized by mineral soils, such as hydromorphic Vertisols and various marl redoximorphic soils, have a high probability (>60%) of exceeding the threshold value. The ability to predict the concentrations of dissolved P in ground water based on DPS values was somewhat impaired because of the preferential flow characteristics in this altered wetland.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)335-343
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Environmental Quality
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2003


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