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Denudation variability of the Sila Massif upland (Italy) from decades to millennia using 10Be and 239+240Pu


Raab, Gerald; Scarciglia, Fabio; Norton, Kevin; Dahms, Dennis; Brandová, Dagmar; de Castro Portes, Raquel; Christl, Marcus; Ketterer, Michael E; Ruppli, Annina; Egli, Markus (2018). Denudation variability of the Sila Massif upland (Italy) from decades to millennia using 10Be and 239+240Pu. Land Degradation & Development, 29(10):3736-3752.

Abstract

Landscapes and soils evolve in non‐linear ways over millennia. Current knowledge is incomplete as only average denudation (or erosion) rates are normally estimated, neglecting the temporal discontinuities of these processes. The determination of regressive and progressive phases of soil evolution is important to our understanding of how soils and landscapes respond to environmental changes. The Sila Massif (Italy) provides a well‐defined geomorphological and geological setting to unravel temporal variations in soil redistribution rates. We used a combination of in situ cosmogenic radionuclide measurements (10Be) along tor (residual rock) height profiles, coupled with fallout radionuclides (239+240Pu) in soils, to model soil denudation rates over the last 100 ka. We measured rates prior to the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) of ≤30 t km−2 yr−1 (~0.036 mm yr−1). Following the LGM, during the transition from the Pleistocene to the Holocene, these rates increased to ~150–200 t km−2 yr−1 and appeared to be above soil production rates, causing regressive soil evolution. For the last ~50 years, we even describe erosion rates of ≥1,000 t km−2 yr−1 (~1.23 mm yr−1) and consider human impact as the decisive factor for this development. Consequently, the natural soil production rates cannot cope with the current erosion rates. Thus, a distinct regressive phase of soil formation exists, which will give rise to shallowing of soils over time. Overall, our multimethod approach traced denudation and erosion histories over geologic and human timescales and made a new archive to soil science and geomorphology accessible.

Abstract

Landscapes and soils evolve in non‐linear ways over millennia. Current knowledge is incomplete as only average denudation (or erosion) rates are normally estimated, neglecting the temporal discontinuities of these processes. The determination of regressive and progressive phases of soil evolution is important to our understanding of how soils and landscapes respond to environmental changes. The Sila Massif (Italy) provides a well‐defined geomorphological and geological setting to unravel temporal variations in soil redistribution rates. We used a combination of in situ cosmogenic radionuclide measurements (10Be) along tor (residual rock) height profiles, coupled with fallout radionuclides (239+240Pu) in soils, to model soil denudation rates over the last 100 ka. We measured rates prior to the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) of ≤30 t km−2 yr−1 (~0.036 mm yr−1). Following the LGM, during the transition from the Pleistocene to the Holocene, these rates increased to ~150–200 t km−2 yr−1 and appeared to be above soil production rates, causing regressive soil evolution. For the last ~50 years, we even describe erosion rates of ≥1,000 t km−2 yr−1 (~1.23 mm yr−1) and consider human impact as the decisive factor for this development. Consequently, the natural soil production rates cannot cope with the current erosion rates. Thus, a distinct regressive phase of soil formation exists, which will give rise to shallowing of soils over time. Overall, our multimethod approach traced denudation and erosion histories over geologic and human timescales and made a new archive to soil science and geomorphology accessible.

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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
Uncontrolled Keywords:Soil Science, Development, General Environmental Science, Environmental Chemistry
Language:English
Date:1 October 2018
Deposited On:30 Jan 2019 13:22
Last Modified:31 Jan 2019 08:38
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:1085-3278
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1002/ldr.3120
Project Information:
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant IDIZK0Z2_147421
  • : Project TitleRock boulders as indicators of soil erosion (RAISE)

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