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Weathering, mineralogical evolution and soil organic matter along a Holocene soil toposequence developed on carbonate-rich materials


Egli, M; Merkli, C; Sartori, G; Mirabella, A; Plötze, M (2008). Weathering, mineralogical evolution and soil organic matter along a Holocene soil toposequence developed on carbonate-rich materials. Geomorphology, 97(3-4):675-696.

Abstract

A toposequence of Holocene soils located between 1100–2400 m asl in the Italian Alps served as the basis for the following analyses: the weathering of limestone and dolomite, the calculation of mass balances, understanding the formation of pedogenic Fe and Al, the determination of soil mineral and clay mineral reactions and transformation and the measurement of accumulation and stabilisation mechanisms of soil organic matter. Leaching of carbonates is most intense at the lower elevations, although calcite and dolomite have a higher solubility at low temperatures. The pCO2 in the soil is higher at lower elevations and weathering is driven mainly by carbonic acids. At higher elevations, organic acids appear to determine the mineral transformations and weathering reactions to a greater extent. This suggests that two very different weathering regimes (carbonic and organic acid weathering) exist along the toposequence. The transformation of mica into vermiculite is the main process in both the clay and fine-earth fraction. Weathering of silicate minerals started even before the carbonates had been completely removed from the soils. The transformation mechanisms of silicate minerals in the A and O horizon at higher elevations was at least as intensive as that at the climatically warmer sites. The neoformation of pedogenetic clays at climatically cooler sites was slightly greater than that at the warmer sites. However, the formation rate of secondary Fe and Al phases was more pronounced at lower elevation, which means that this process seemed to be driven dominantly by carbonic acid (weathering of primary minerals). Soil organic matter (SOM) abundance in the mineral soil is nearly 15 kg/m2 at all sites and, surprisingly, no climate-driven effect could be detected. In general, the preservation and stabilisation of SOM was due to poorly crystalline Al and Fe phases and vermiculite, regardless of some variations in the composition of the parent material (varying calcite/dolomite ratio).

A toposequence of Holocene soils located between 1100–2400 m asl in the Italian Alps served as the basis for the following analyses: the weathering of limestone and dolomite, the calculation of mass balances, understanding the formation of pedogenic Fe and Al, the determination of soil mineral and clay mineral reactions and transformation and the measurement of accumulation and stabilisation mechanisms of soil organic matter. Leaching of carbonates is most intense at the lower elevations, although calcite and dolomite have a higher solubility at low temperatures. The pCO2 in the soil is higher at lower elevations and weathering is driven mainly by carbonic acids. At higher elevations, organic acids appear to determine the mineral transformations and weathering reactions to a greater extent. This suggests that two very different weathering regimes (carbonic and organic acid weathering) exist along the toposequence. The transformation of mica into vermiculite is the main process in both the clay and fine-earth fraction. Weathering of silicate minerals started even before the carbonates had been completely removed from the soils. The transformation mechanisms of silicate minerals in the A and O horizon at higher elevations was at least as intensive as that at the climatically warmer sites. The neoformation of pedogenetic clays at climatically cooler sites was slightly greater than that at the warmer sites. However, the formation rate of secondary Fe and Al phases was more pronounced at lower elevation, which means that this process seemed to be driven dominantly by carbonic acid (weathering of primary minerals). Soil organic matter (SOM) abundance in the mineral soil is nearly 15 kg/m2 at all sites and, surprisingly, no climate-driven effect could be detected. In general, the preservation and stabilisation of SOM was due to poorly crystalline Al and Fe phases and vermiculite, regardless of some variations in the composition of the parent material (varying calcite/dolomite ratio).

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
Dewey Decimal Classification:910 Geography & travel
Language:English
Date:15 May 2008
Deposited On:06 Nov 2008 13:52
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 12:32
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0169-555X
Publisher DOI:10.1016/j.geomorph.2007.09.011
Permanent URL: http://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-5014

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