Impact of an intense rainfall event on soil properties following a wildfire in a Mediterranean environment (North-East Spain)

Marcos Francos, Paulo Pereira, Meritxell Alcañiz, Jorge Mataix-Solera, Xavier Úbeda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

24 Citations (Scopus)


Intense rainfall events after severe wildfires can have an impact on soil properties, above all in the Mediterranean environment. This study seeks to examine the immediate impact and the effect after a year of an intense rainfall event on a Mediterranean forest affected by a high severity wildfire. The work analyses the following soil properties: soil aggregate stability, total nitrogen, total carbon, organic and inorganic carbon, the C/N ratio, carbonates, pH, electrical conductivity, extractable calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, available phosphorous and the sodium and potassium adsorption ratio (SPAR). We sampled soils in the burned area before, immediately after and one year after the rainfall event. The results showed that the intense rainfall event did not have an immediate impact on soil aggregate stability, but a significant difference was recorded one year after. The intense precipitation did not result in any significant changes in soil total nitrogen, total carbon, inorganic carbon, the C/N ratio and carbonates during the study period. Differences were only registered in soil organic carbon. The soil organic carbon content was significantly higher after the rainfall than in the other sampling dates. The rainfall event did increase soil pH, electrical conductivity, major cations, available phosphorous and the SPAR. One year after the fire, a significant decrease in soil aggregate stability was observed that can be attributed to high SPAR levels and human intervention, while the reduction in extractable elements can be attributed to soil leaching and vegetation consumption. Overall, the intense rainfall event, other post-fire rainfall events and human intervention did not have a detrimental impact on soil properties in all probability owing to the flat plot topography.

Original languageEnglish
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Dec 1 2015



  • Aggregate stability
  • C/N ratio
  • Intense rainfall
  • Major cations
  • Severe wildfire
  • SPAR

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Environmental Engineering

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