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Development of a Rapid Assessment Method for Quantifying Carbon Sequestration on Reclaimed Coal Mine Sites

Sally Maharaj, University of Kentucky, Department of Geological Sciences, Lexington, Kentucky, [email protected]


Increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide have been linked with global climate change. Efforts have been initiated to remove carbon from the atmosphere and sequester it within terrestrial ecosystems. The revised Kyoto Protocol has identified soil as a potential carbon “sink” provided that the rate of soil organic carbon sequestration and cumulative magnitude can be verified by standard procedures. As such, countries may be allowed to subtract from their industrial carbon emission increases in carbon that have been sequestered in soils from a variety of agricultural and reserve settings. Reclaimed coal mine soils present one such potential carbon sink where traditional reclamation objectives can complement carbon sequestration. However, quantifying “new” carbon (carbon that has been added to soil through recent biological processes) on reclaimed mine soils have proven to be difficult due to carbonates and coal particles present in the reclaimed coal mine spoils. Visible coal particles can be removed, but the microscopic coal dust particles remain. Additionally, with the advent of carbon trading on the stock market, rapid quantification of newly sequestered carbon has proven to be elusive. The focus of this project is to assess the potential of thermogravimetric analysis as a rapid, simple and direct method for differentiating and quantifying “new” carbon from “old” carbon (carbon of geologic origin) on reclaimed coal mine sites and provide a standard procedure for determining carbon sequestered in soil “sinks” as per the Kyoto Protocol.