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A Quantitative Comparison of Soil Development in Four Climatic Regimes

  • Jennifer W. Harden (a1) and Emily M. Taylor (a1)

A new quantitative Soil Development Index based on field data has been applied to chronosequences formed under different climatic regimes. The four soil chronosequences, developed primarily on sandy deposits, have some numeric age control and are located in xeric-inland (Merced, Calif.), xeric-coastal (Ventura, Calif.), aridic (Las Cruces, N. Mex.), and udic (Susquehanna Valley, Pa.) soil-moisture regimes. To quantify field properties, points are assigned for developmental increases in soil properties in comparison to the parent material. Currently ten soil-field properties are quantified and normalized for each horizon in a given chronosequence, including two new properties for carbonate-rich soils in addition to the eight properties previously defined. When individual properties or the combined indexes are plotted as a function of numeric age, rates of soil development can be compared in different climates. The results demonstrate that (1) the Soil Development Index can be applied to very different soil types, (2) many field properties develop systematically in different climatic regimes, (3) certain properties appear to have similar rates of development in different climates, and (4) the Profile Index that combines different field properties increases significantly with age and appears to develop at similar rates in different climates. The Soil Development Index can serve as a preliminary guide to soil age where other age control is lacking and can be used to correlate deposits of different geographical and climatic regions.

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Quaternary Research
  • ISSN: 0033-5894
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