Integration of geophysical and geochemical approaches to improve the understanding of peatland degradation

Laura McAnallen, Rory Doherty, Panagiotis Kirmizakis

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review


In degraded peatlands under oxic conditions, phenol oxidase
can freely degrade phenolic compounds to produce conjugated
quinones within the solid phase. These compounds are
electrophilic and polar, and can alter the geophysical characteristics
of the peat. Normalization of chargeability with resistivity
is an approach that can be used to map out degraded
peat/quinones to understanding the mechanisms associated
with the ‘Enzymatic Latch’ hypothesis, which is thought to
be significant in the decomposition of organic matter. Research
is limited on this, especially on peatland sites under
different types of degradation (drainage/overgrazing). We have
found that degradation of peat results in the creation of polarizable
material in the subsurface1 which can be measured by
normalizing resistivity with time-domain induced polarization.
As the phenolic compounds breakdown, quinones, which are
characterized by a C=O double bond, are produced. The occurrence
of these quinones, as well as the presence of phenolic
compounds can be assessed using FTIR. We propose that
the polarizable material results from the production of these
quinones, which are electrophilic and polar, and may provide
an insight into the occurrence of the ‘Enzyme Latch’ hypothesis
and a measure of degradation as a result of water table decline
and oxygen influx. By comparing normalized chargeability
with the organic composition, this relationship can be used
to better understand peatland degradation and restoration.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 04 Oct 2018
Event5th International Workshop on Induced Polarization - Rutgers University , New Jersey , United States
Duration: 03 Oct 201805 Oct 2018


Workshop5th International Workshop on Induced Polarization
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityNew Jersey
Internet address


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