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Soil Science Society of America Journal Abstract -

Saturated Zones and Soil Morphology in a Mollisol Catena of Central Iowa


This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 58 No. 5, p. 1457-1464
    Received: Apr 26, 1993

    * Corresponding author(s):
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  1. F. A. Khan * and
  2. T. E. Fenton
  1. Dep. of Agronomy, Iowa State Univ., Ames, IA 50011



The zone of saturation plays significant roles in decisions regarding soil classification systems and land use both present and potential. This study was conducted to determine the status of water tables, morphological features, and groundwater hydrology and to evaluate the zone of saturation on selected soils (Aquolls and Hapludolls) of a Mollisol catena. Water table depths and the amount of precipitation were measured for a 10-year period on five soils formed in glacial till or till-derived sediments in central Iowa. Results show that the depth of the water table, duration of saturation, morphological features, and recharge and discharge to groundwater varied with geomorphic position in the Mollisol catena. In general, soils on summit and shoulder positions (Hapludolls) are not saturated and have high chromas without redoximorphic features in the B horizon, have deeper water tables, and have maximum fluctuation of water table levels. The soils on toeslopes and depressions (Aquolls) have the shallowest water tables, have the longest time of saturation, and have B horizons with gray matrices, bright mottles, and Fe-Mn concretions. Nicollet soils (fine-loamy, mixed, mesic Aquic Hapludoll) on backslope positions have intermediate characteristics. Redoximorphic features present in these soils are correlated with the fluctuating depth of the present-day water table. The extent of recharge and discharge and artificial the drainage are contributing factors to the water table level. Data for water table level and calcite/dolomite ratio indicate that ephemeral recharge and discharge of groundwater occur in the soils on lower landscape positions. Recharge is the dominant process in the soils of higher landscape. This study was designed to contribute to the understanding of drainage class-water table-morphological features of soils in this region. The apparent drainage conditions and the redoximorphic features contribute to the testing and clarification of soil classification and soil taxonomy.

Contribution from the Agric. and Home Econ. Exp. Stn. Journal Paper J-15328 of the Iowa Agric. and Home Econ. Exp. Stn. Ames. Project No. 2091.

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