Hysteresis in the sorption and desorption of hydrophobic organic contaminants by soils and sediments. 2. Effects of soil organic matter heterogeneity

Walter J. Weber, Weilin Huang, Hong Yu

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Sorption and desorption equilibria were measured for phenanthrene and 12 different soil and sediment samples using an experimental protocol described in the companion paper of this two-part series. Ten of the 12 sorbents studied were found to exhibit statistically significant sorption-desorption hysteresis, with those containing diagenetically-altered soil organic matter (kerogens) doing so to greater extents than those containing geologically- younger humic soil organic matter. Correlations between the extent of hysteresis and the characteristics of 13C-NMR spectra indicate that particle-scale soil organic matter heterogeneity significantly affects this phenomenon. The experimental observations are mechanistically consistent with a conceptual model based on polymer sorption theory, the Dual Reactive Domain Model (DRDM). The work reinforces the general suitability of the DRDM for characterizing sorption-desorption interactions between hydrophobic organic contaminants and soils and sediments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)149-165
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Contaminant Hydrology
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - May 1 1998


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Water Science and Technology


  • Desorption hysteresis
  • Phenanthrene
  • Soil heterogeneity
  • Sorption

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