Published online by Cambridge University Press: 18 July 2016
Two soil profiles from northeast India, one from Bakrihawar, an agricultural land, and the other from Chandipur, a virgin hilly area from Assam, are investigated to understand the organic carbon dynamics of the area. Due to frequent flooding, the Bakrihawar soil has accumulated a higher clay content than that of Chandipur. The carbon content is less than 1% by weight in both the sites. The higher clay content is responsible for relatively more soil organic carbon at Bakrihawar. The mean δ13C values at both sites reflect the values of the overlying vegetation. At Bakrihawar, both rice cultivation (C3) and natural C4 grasses contribute to higher mean enriched values of 13C relative to Chandipur, where the surface vegetation is mostly of C3 type. The turnover time of organic carbon, estimated using the residual radiocarbon content, depends strongly on the soil particle size distribution, especially the clay content (i.e. it increases with clay content). To the best of our knowledge, this is the first soil carbon dynamics study of its kind from northeast India.