Mineral-organic interactions in soil aggregation and protection of soil organic carbon

Summary

Soil organic matter (SOM) represents the largest terrestrial carbon pool. The mineralisation of SOM has a major impact on the global carbon cycle and therefore research is needed to understand the stabilisation mechanisms of SOM. The stability or longevity of organic matter in soils is considered to be enhanced by chemical and physical interactions between mineral and SOM in soils. Mineral-organic interactions in soils can be influenced by mineral size, surface functional groups, specific surface area and porosity of the minerals involved in the process, as well as the properties of organic compounds. The research project will focus on understanding the nature of the mineral-organic interactions in soils, which might help in increasing the stability of soil organic carbon.

Supervisor(s)

Professor Balwant Singh

Research Location

School of Life and Environmental Sciences

Program Type

PHD

Synopsis

The research project will involve collections of soil samples from field sites with contrasting mineral compositions in Australia. The focus will be on understanding the nature of chemical interactions between mineral-organic in natural soils by determining the chemical functional groups of organic carbon or minerals, and evaluating the stability of mineral-organic associations. The research will involve the application of traditional laboratory methods and advanced spectroscopic (e.g. NEXAFS, XPS, FTIR), X-ray diffraction and electron microscopy techniques.

Additional Information

A candidate with a strong background in soil science, or related subjects. Some experience in soil chemistry and mineralogy will be desired. The potential candidate will require financial support and should apply for scholarships available from the University or from external agencies.
The candidate will be based as part of the Sydney Institute of Agriculture at the Australian Technology Park. 
In addition to the academic requirements set out in the Science Postgraduate Handbook, you may be required to satisfy a number of inherent requirements to complete this degree. Example of inherent requirements may include: 

  • Confidential disclosure and registration of a disability that may hinder your performance in your degree;
  • Confidential disclosure of a pre-existing or current medical condition that may hinder your performance in your degree (e.g. heart disease, pace-maker, significant immune suppression, diabetes, vertigo, etc.);
  • Ability to perform independently and/or with minimal supervision;
  • Ability to undertake certain physical tasks (e.g. heavy lifting);
  • Ability to undertake observatory, sensory and communication tasks;
  • Ability to spend time at remote sites (e.g. One Tree Island, Narrabri and Camden);
  • Ability to work in confined spaces or at heights; Ability to operate heavy machinery (e.g. farming equipment);
  • Hold or acquire an Australian driver’s licence;
  • Hold a current scuba diving license;
  • Hold a current Working with Children Check;
  • Meet initial and ongoing immunisation requirements (e.g. Q-Fever, Vaccinia virus, Hepatitis, etc.)
You must consult with your nominated supervisor regarding any identified inherent requirements before completing your application.

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Keywords

soil organic matter, spectroscopy, Soil carbon, clay minerals, Electron microscopy

Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is: 1797

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