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Soil Science Society of America Journal Abstract -

The Genesis of Certain Calcareous Floodplain Soils of Virginia1


This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 29 No. 6, p. 729-732
    Received: Aug 20, 1964
    Accepted: July 7, 1965

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  1. H. L. Mathews,
  2. G. W. Prescott and
  3. S. S. Obenshain2



A study was made to determine the origin of the calcareous material found in certain floodplain soils of the limestone valleys of Virginia. The CaCO3 in these soils was derived from the highly fractured and faulted limestone underlying the area. Groundwater, high in dissolved CO2, percolated through the crushed limestone, dissolving an appreciable amount of Ca and Mg carbonate. This water issued at the surface in the form of large springs and lost some of the dissolved CO2 which resulted in a saturated solution with respect to calcium. The CaCO3 depositing alga Oocardium stratum Näg was found below the point of saturation in the streams and was thought to be of major importance in the deposition of CaCO3. In a 200-foot section of stream channel beginning 450 feet below a spring having a rate of flow of 104 gallons/min, approximately 2.85 tons of CaCO3 were deposited annually as tufa. Algal-deposited tufa is torn from stream channels during heavy rains and redeposited downstream by flood waters. Calcareous material occurs several miles from the source area and is a constituent of the flood plain soils along the creeks and rivers of the area.

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