The effect of peat structure on the spatial distribution of biogenic gases within bogs

Xavier Comas*, Nicholas Kettridge, Andrew Binley, Lee Slater, Andrew Parsekian, Andy J. Baird, Maria Strack, James M. Waddington

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Northern peatlands are a large source of atmospheric methane (CH4) and both a source and a sink of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2). The rate and temporal variability in gas exchanges with peat soils is directly related to the spatial distribution of these free-phase gases within the peat column. In this paper, we present results from surface and borehole ground-penetrating radar surveys - constrained with direct soil and gas sampling - that compare the spatial distribution of gas accumulations in two raised bogs: one in Wales (UK), the other in Maine (USA). Although the two peatlands have similar average thickness, physical properties of the peat matrix differ, particularly in terms of peat type and degree of humification. We hypothesize that these variations in physical properties are responsible for the differences in gas distribution between the two peatlands characterized by (1) gas content up to 10.8% associated with woody peat and presence of wood layers in Caribou Bog (Maine) and (2) a more homogenous distribution with gas content up to 5.7% at the surface (i.e. <0.5m deep) in Cors Fochno (Wales). Our results highlight the variability in biogenic gas accumulation and distribution across peatlands and suggest that the nature of the peat matrix has a key role in defining how biogenic gas accumulates within and is released to the atmosphere from peat soils.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5483-5494
JournalHydrological Processes
Issue number22
Early online date19 Sept 2013
Publication statusPublished - 7 Oct 2014


  • Carbon cycle
  • Geophysics
  • Peatlands

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology


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