Header

UZH-Logo

Maintenance Infos

Effect of north and south exposure on weathering rates and clay mineral formation in Alpine soils


Egli, Markus; Mirabella, Aldo; Sartori, Giacomo; Zanelli, Remo; Bischof, Simone (2006). Effect of north and south exposure on weathering rates and clay mineral formation in Alpine soils. Catena, 67(3):155-174.

Abstract

A comparison was made between two soil climosequences on north- and south-facing slopes in northern Italy to determine the influence of slope aspect on soil processes. The climosequences span an elevational gradient ranging from moderate (1200 m a.s.l.) to high alpine (2420 m a.s.l.) climate zones on surfaces having an age of about 15 000 years. The soils were investigated with respect to organic C, oxalate and dithionite extractable Fe, Al and Si, elemental losses (Ca, Mg, K, Na, Fe, Al, Si, Mn) and clay minerals. The stocks of soil org. C as well as of oxalate-extractable Fe and Al was greatest in the subalpine zone near the timberline. There are no clear differences in organic C content between the soils on north- and south-facing sites. Fe-oxalate and to a lesser extent Alo-stocks were, however, greater on north-facing sites, indicating that weathering is greater there. Eluviation and illuviation of Al and Fe within the soil profile, typical for podzolisation, was more distinctly expressed on the N slopes. The probability of ITM (Imogolite-type-material) formation in the soil seemed to be greater on south- facing sites. On the north-facing sites, element leaching was most intense in the subalpine zone close to the timberline while on the south- facing sites this was only the case for the base cations. The N slopes exhibited higher leaching of elements which generally indicates a higher weathering intensity. On south-facing sites, typical podzolisation processes were measurable only above 2000 m a.s.l. The development of smectites is also a reflection of the weathering intensity; smectite was discernible in the surface horizon at all sites on N slopes but the highest amount was detected in the sub-alpine climate zone. For the south-facing sites only in the alpine climate zone could smectite be detected. Higher temperatures and an increased number of freeze-thaw cycles on south-facing slopes should theoretically enhance rates of chemical weathering. This could, however, not be confirmed with our measurements. The degree of chemical weathering increases from the south- to the north-facing sites that are characterised by lower temperatures, lower evapotranspiration and consequently by a higher humidity. Although precipitation in Alpine regions is abundant, the availability and flux of water through the soil is the prime factor in weathering intensity.

Abstract

A comparison was made between two soil climosequences on north- and south-facing slopes in northern Italy to determine the influence of slope aspect on soil processes. The climosequences span an elevational gradient ranging from moderate (1200 m a.s.l.) to high alpine (2420 m a.s.l.) climate zones on surfaces having an age of about 15 000 years. The soils were investigated with respect to organic C, oxalate and dithionite extractable Fe, Al and Si, elemental losses (Ca, Mg, K, Na, Fe, Al, Si, Mn) and clay minerals. The stocks of soil org. C as well as of oxalate-extractable Fe and Al was greatest in the subalpine zone near the timberline. There are no clear differences in organic C content between the soils on north- and south-facing sites. Fe-oxalate and to a lesser extent Alo-stocks were, however, greater on north-facing sites, indicating that weathering is greater there. Eluviation and illuviation of Al and Fe within the soil profile, typical for podzolisation, was more distinctly expressed on the N slopes. The probability of ITM (Imogolite-type-material) formation in the soil seemed to be greater on south- facing sites. On the north-facing sites, element leaching was most intense in the subalpine zone close to the timberline while on the south- facing sites this was only the case for the base cations. The N slopes exhibited higher leaching of elements which generally indicates a higher weathering intensity. On south-facing sites, typical podzolisation processes were measurable only above 2000 m a.s.l. The development of smectites is also a reflection of the weathering intensity; smectite was discernible in the surface horizon at all sites on N slopes but the highest amount was detected in the sub-alpine climate zone. For the south-facing sites only in the alpine climate zone could smectite be detected. Higher temperatures and an increased number of freeze-thaw cycles on south-facing slopes should theoretically enhance rates of chemical weathering. This could, however, not be confirmed with our measurements. The degree of chemical weathering increases from the south- to the north-facing sites that are characterised by lower temperatures, lower evapotranspiration and consequently by a higher humidity. Although precipitation in Alpine regions is abundant, the availability and flux of water through the soil is the prime factor in weathering intensity.

Statistics

Citations

53 citations in Web of Science®
54 citations in Scopus®
Google Scholar™

Altmetrics

Downloads

2 downloads since deposited on 14 Mar 2013
0 downloads since 12 months
Detailed statistics

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:2006
Deposited On:14 Mar 2013 09:46
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 16:40
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0341-8162
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.catena.2006.02.010

Download

Preview Icon on Download
Content: Published Version
Language: English
Filetype: PDF - Registered users only
Size: 495kB
View at publisher