Journal Article


Balz S. Kamber
Mike Widdowson
Carolina Rosca
David Chew
Ronny Schoenberg
Nils Thorsten Suhr


Agriculture & Food Science

soil south america india nutrition and health malnutrition zn deficiency human health hidden hunger

Elemental and isotopic behaviour of Zn in Deccan basalt weathering profiles: Chemical weathering from bedrock to laterite and links to Zn deficiency in tropical soils (2018)

Abstract Zinc (Zn) is a micronutrient for organisms and essential for plant growth, therefore knowledge of its elemental cycling in the surface environment is important regarding wider aspects of human nutrition and health. To explore the nature of Zn cycling, we compared its weathering behaviour in a sub-recent regolith versus an ancient laterite profile of the Deccan Traps, India ? an area of known soil Zn deficiency.We demonstrate that progressive breakdown of primary minerals and the associated formation of phyllosilicates and iron oxides leads to a depletion in Zn, ultimately resulting in a loss of 80% in lateritic residues. This residue is mainly composed of resistant iron oxides and hydroxides ultimately delivering insufficient amounts of bio-available Zn. Moreover, (sub)-tropical weathering in regions experiencing extended tectonic quiescence (e.g., cratons) further enhance the development of old and deep soil profiles that become deficient in Zn. This situation is clearly revealed by the spatial correlation of the global distribution of laterites, cratons (Africa, India, South America and Australia) and known regions of Zn deficient soils that result in health problems for humans whose diet is derived from such land. We also investigate whether this elemental depletion of Zn is accompanied by isotope fractionation. In the saprolitic horizons of both weathering profiles, compositions of ?66ZnJMC-Lyon lie within the ?crustal average? of +0.27?0.07??66ZnJMC-Lyon. By contrast, soil horizons enriched in secondary oxides show lighter isotope compositions. The isotopic signature of Zn (?66Znsample-protolith up to ~?0.65?) during the formation of the ferruginous- lateritic weathering profile likely resulted from a combination of biotically- and kinetically-controlled sorption reactions on Fe-oxyhydroxides. Our findings suggest that oxide rich soil types/horizons in (sub)-tropical regions likely exert a control on riverine Zn isotope compositions such that these becomeheavier than the crustal average. This isotopic behaviour invites a broader study of global soils to test whether light isotope composition alone could serve as an indicator for reduced bioavailability of Zn.
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Full list of authors on original publication

Balz S. Kamber, Mike Widdowson, Carolina Rosca, David Chew, Ronny Schoenberg, Nils Thorsten Suhr

Experts in our system

Balz Kamber
Trinity College Dublin
Total Publications: 17
Carolina Rosca
Trinity College Dublin
David Chew
Trinity College Dublin
Total Publications: 22
Nils Thorsten Suhr
Trinity College Dublin
Total Publications: 3