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U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2011-1153

Soil Physical, Chemical, and Gas-Flux Characterization from Picea mariana Stands near Erickson Creek, Alaska

By Jonathan A. O’Donnell, Jennifer W. Harden, and Kristen L. Manies

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (156 kB)


Fire is a particularly important control on the carbon (C) balance of the boreal forest, and fire-return intervals and fire severity appear to have increased since the late 1900s in North America. In addition to the immediate release of stored C to the atmosphere through organic-matter combustion, fire also modifies soil conditions, possibly affecting C exchange between terrestrial and atmospheric pools for decades after the burn. The effects of fire on ecosystem C dynamics vary across the landscape, with topographic position and soil drainage functioning as important controls.

The data reported here contributed to a larger U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) study, published in the journal Ecosystems by O’Donnell and others (2009). To evaluate the effects of fire and drainage on ecosystem C dynamics, we selected sample sites within the 2003 Erickson Creek fire scar to measure CO2 fluxes and soil C inventories in burned and unburned (control) sites in both upland and lowland black spruce (Picea mariana) forests. The results of this study suggested that although fire can create soil climate conditions which are more conducive to rapid decomposition, rates of C release from soils may be constrained after fire by changes in moisture and (or) substrate quality that impede rates of decomposition. Here, we report detailed site information, methodology, and data (in spreadsheet files) from that study.

  • Report PDF (156 kB)
  • Data folder. This folder contains the eight spreadsheet files in several formats as well as a single zip file that combines all of them (2 MB total).
  • This report is available only on the Web.

For additional information:
Contact Information, USGS Soil Carbon Research at Menlo Park
U.S. Geological Survey
345 Middlefield Road, MS 962
Menlo Park, California 94025

Part of this report is presented in Portable Document Format (PDF); the latest version of Adobe Reader or similar software is required to view it. Download the latest version of Adobe Reader, free of charge.

Suggested citation:

O’Donnell, J.A., Harden, J.W., and Manies, K.L., 2011, Soil physical, chemical and gas-flux characterization from Picea mariana stands near Erickson Creek, Alaska: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2011-1153, 15 p. and data files.



Study Area

Soil Sampling

Soil-Sample Preparation and Drying

Soil Total Carbon and Nitrogen Measurements

Vegetation Characterization

Environmental Measurements

CO2 Flux Measurements

Data-set descriptions


References Cited

two appendixes

eight spreadsheet files

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