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Alluvial Soil Chronosequence in the Inner Coastal Plain, Central Virginia

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Jeffrey L. Howard
Affiliation:
Department of Geology, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan 48202
Dan F. Amos
Affiliation:
Department of Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia 24061
W. Lee Daniels
Affiliation:
Department of Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia 24061

Abstract

A chronological sequence of soils formed on a series of alluvial depositional surfaces ranging in age from late-middle Miocene to late Pleistocene was characterized to clarify soil-geomorphic relations and provide a basis for allostratigraphic subdivision of the inner Coastal Plain. On Quaternary river terraces, Ultic Hapludalfs containing abundant weatherable mineral species and clast types are estimated to have formed in 60,000-120,000 yr, whereas Typic Hapludults greatly depleted in weatherable minerals and showing strong weathering of clast types are estimated to be 700,000-1,600,000 yr old. Typic Paleudults with incipient plinthite, duripan, and ferricrete development characterize interfluves that have been little eroded since early Pliocene time (3.4-5.3 myr ago). Typic-Plinthic Paleudults with intense weathering of siliceous clasts and moderate to strong duripan and ferricrete development are found on surfaces that formed near the beginning of late Miocene time (10.8-13.0 myr ago). Chemical weathering in the chronosequence may be classified into three progressive stages: (1) decomposition of unstable sand- and silt-sized minerals into a mixed (stable + unstable) clay-mineral suite (stable Fe + Al/Si bulk chemical composition, < 106 yr); (2) transformation of mixed clay-mineral suite into a stable suite (increasing Fe + Al/Si bulk chemical composition, 106 - 107 yr); and (3) transformation of stable suite into ultrastable clay-mineral suite (increasing Fe/Si bulk composition, > 107 yr). Not all soil properties show unidirectional development, nor is a steady state of pedon development observed even after approximately 107 yr of chemical weathering. Soil development in the chronosequence is episodic. The transition from one phase to the next is marked by a change in rate, and sometimes a reversal in the direction, of development of one or more soil properties.

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Articles
Copyright
University of Washington

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