Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2021, Vol. 31 ›› Issue (4): 535-550.doi: 10.1007/s11442-021-1857-5

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Spatial variation and driving mechanism of soil organic carbon components in the alluvial/sedimentary zone of the Yellow River

LI Guodong1,2, ZHANG Junhua1,2,*(), ZHU Lianqi1,2, TIAN Huiwen1,2, SHI Jiaqi1,2, REN Xiaojuan1,2   

  1. 1. Key Laboratory of Geospatial Technology for the Middle and Lower Yellow River Regions (Henan University), Ministry of Education, Kaifeng 475004, Henan, China
    2. College of Environment and Planning, Henan University, Kaifeng 475004, Henan, China
  • Received:2020-12-08 Accepted:2021-01-28 Online:2021-04-25 Published:2021-06-25
  • Contact: ZHANG Junhua
  • About author:Li Guodong, Associate Professor, specialized in land surface processes and environmental change. E-mail:
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No(41101088);National Natural Science Foundation of China, No(U1404401);Natural Science Foundation of Henan Province, No(182300410129);New Interdisciplinary and Characteristic Subject Cultivation Project of Henan University, No(XXJC20140003)


Alluviation and sedimentation of the Yellow River are important factors influencing the surface soil structure and organic carbon content in its lower reaches. Selecting Kaifeng and Zhoukou as typical cases of the Yellow River flooding area, the field survey, soil sample collection, laboratory experiment and Geographic Information System (GIS) spatial analysis methods were applied to study the spatial distribution characteristics and change mechanism of organic carbon components at different soil depths. The results revealed that the soil total organic carbon (TOC), active organic carbon (AOC) and nonactive organic carbon (NOC) contents ranged from 0.05-30.03 g/kg, 0.01-8.86 g/kg and 0.02-23.36 g/kg, respectively. The TOC, AOC and NOC contents in the surface soil layer were obviously higher than those in the lower soil layer, and the sequence of the content and change range within a single layer was TOC>NOC>AOC. Geostatistical analysis indicated that the TOC, AOC and NOC contents were commonly influenced by structural and random factors, and the influence magnitudes of these two factors were similar. The overall spatial trends of TOC, AOC and NOC remained relatively consistent from the 0-20 cm layer to the 20-100 cm layer, and the transition between high- and low-value areas was obvious, while the spatial variance was high. The AOC and NOC contents and spatial distribution better reflected TOC spatial variation and carbon accumulation areas. The distribution and depth of the sediment, agricultural land-use type, cropping system, fertilization method, tillage process and cultivation history were the main factors impacting the spatial variation in the soil organic carbon (SOC) components. Therefore, increasing the organic matter content, straw return, applying organic manure, adding exogenous particulate matter and conservation tillage are effective measures to improve the soil quality and attain sustainable agricultural development in the alluvial/sedimentary zone of the Yellow River.

Key words: soil organic carbon, Yellow River sediment, spatial variation, driving mechanism, cultivation history