In soils and sediments, there are three basic forms of carbon that may be present: elemental carbon, inorganic carbon and organic carbon. In these samples, the organic matter is widely distributed over the earth's surface occurring in almost all terrestrial and aquatic environments.
The determination of total carbon (TC) and total organic carbon (TOC) is essential since the presence or absence of oxygen can markedly influence how chemicals will react in the soil or sediment. The carbon determinations are typically requested with contaminant analyses for ecological risk assessment and it is used to qualitatively assess the nature of the sampling location.
Moreover, for environmental studies is also important to determine the Carbon/Nitrogen ratio as it has a direct impact on residue decomposition and nitrogen cycling in soils and sediments.
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