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This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 52 No. 3, p. 716-723
    Received: Feb 13, 1987

    * Corresponding author(s):
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Early Stages of Mine Soil Genesis in a Southwest Virginia Spoil Lithosequence

  1. J. A. Roberts,
  2. W. L. Daniels ,
  3. J. A. Burger and
  4. J. C. Bell
  1. Virginia Council on the Environment, 903 Ninth St. Office Bldg., Richmond, VA 23219
    Dep. of Agronomy, Virginia Polytechnic Inst. & State Univ., Blacksburg, VA 24061
    Dep. of Agronomy, Pennsylvania State Univ., University Park, PA 16802



Natural topsoils in the Appalachian surface mining region are often more difficult to use and less desirable than alternative spoil materials. Parent material effects and initial pedogenic changes over 3 yr were observed in 5 mixes of sandstone (SS) and siltstone (SiS) spoils under grass vegetation. Spoil type controlled initial soil texture, but significant decreases in sand contents and increases in silt contents occurred in several spoil mixes within 2 yr. All mine soils studied were high (≥65%) in coarse fragments. Mine soils derived from spoils high in siltstone content were higher in coarse fragments, pH, extractable cations and iron, fine earth (<2 mm) water holding capacity, and electrical conductivity than sandstone mine soils. Dissolution and leaching, oxidation, and organic matter incorporation were dominant pedogenic processes influencing mine soil properties over the period of this experiment. Distinct surface A horizons formed within 3 yr. Water retention in the <2-mm fraction increased over time in the surface (0 to 5 cm) of all spoil types except pure sandstone. Extractable Fe and total N increased between 1982 and 1984, while pH, and extractable Ca, Mg and P decreased in most spoil types. These changes reflect rapid pedogenesis in fresh unweathered parent materials in a humid environment.

This research was supported by the Powell River Project and the USDI Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation, and Enforcement under contract #J5140102. Contribution of Dep. of Agronomy, Virginia Polytechnic Inst. & State Univ.

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