Application of simultaneous thermal analysis mass spectrometry and stable carbon isotope analysis in a carbon sequestration study

Rapid Commun Mass Spectrom. 2005;19(22):3192-8. doi: 10.1002/rcm.2145.


The simultaneous analysis of evolved gases and the determination of stable isotope composition (delta13C) as part of a thermal analysis experiment have been used to (a) distinguish bulk chemical hosts for carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) within a soil and (b) track labelled C within a soil sequestration experiment. C3 and C4 dung was applied to a pasture soil, and soil samples taken for analysis. The results of thermogravimetry-differential scanning calorimetry-quadrupole mass spectrometry-isotope ratio mass spectrometry (TG-DSC-QMS-IRMS) show that the proportion of more refractory C (lignin-like) is greater for the dungs than for the soil organic matter (SOM), and that this increases with time within the soil. Analysis of evolved gases shows that nitrogen is associated with the decomposition of more refractory C, and is not so strongly associated with the labile C component. IRMS analysis distinguished C3 and C4 dung, and allowed the amount of C from these sources to be estimated for the soil samples. Most dung C enters the refractory SOM fraction. This paper demonstrates the potential of TG-DSC-QMS-IRMS in the investigation of SOM.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Carbon / metabolism*
  • Carbon Isotopes
  • Hot Temperature
  • Manure / analysis*
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Nitrogen / metabolism
  • Poaceae / metabolism
  • Soil / analysis*


  • Carbon Isotopes
  • Manure
  • Soil
  • Carbon
  • Nitrogen