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Soil Science Society of America Journal Abstract -

Age and Comparative Development of Desert Soils at the Gardner Spring Radiocarbon Site, New Mexico1


This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 32 No. 5, p. 709-716
    Received: Jan 23, 1968
    Accepted: Apr 4, 1968

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  1. L. H. Gile and
  2. J. W. Hawley2



Radiocarbon ages have been obtained from seven buried charcoal horizons in a desert area of southern New Mexico. Several deposits of highly calcareous alluvium range in age from less than 1,100 to somewhat greater than 5,000 years and are therefore of Recent age. Pleistocene deposits much older than 5,000 years also occur. Pleistocene soils of adjacent topographic highs were a major source of the Recent sediments. Evidence in this area indicates that the present climate is warmer and drier than the Pleistocene pluvial climates. This change to a drier and warmer climate could have decreased the vegetative cover in places and started strong erosion of Pleistocene soils in these areas.

The dated charcoal also establishes a maximum, and in some instances a minimum age for several soils formed in the deposits. With increasing age of soil during Recent time, the progression of soil development appears to have been marked by development of an A horizon, destruction of thin sedimentary strata, slight accumulation of carbonate, development of structure in materials of sufficiently fine texture, and, with continued carbonate accumulation, development of a weak calcic horizon. In contrast, soils of Pleistocene age can have distinct argillic horizons and strong horizons of carbonate accumulation. It is postulated that the wetter climates of Pleistocene pluvials, associated with greater vegetative cover and landscape stability, were required for development of argillic horizons in these highly calcareous parent materials.

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