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Soil Science Society of America Journal Abstract - DIVISION S-5-PEDOLOGY

Subaqueous Soils Pedogenesis in a Submersed Environment


This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 63 No. 5, p. 1250-1257
    Received: Sept 29, 1998

    * Corresponding author(s): gdemas@md.nrcs.usda.gov
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  1. George P. Demas *a and
  2. Martin C. Rabenhorstb
  1. a USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, 304 Commerce St., Snow Hill, MD 21863 USA
    b Dep. of Natural Resource Sciences, H.J. Patterson Hall, Univ. of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742 USA


Proposals for the inclusion of permanently submersed materials in soil taxonomic systems have periodically been put forth since some time in the mid 1800s. The proposals were largely conceptual in nature, relying more on subjective reasoning rather than analytical and field data. Advances in computer and global positioning technology, and the continuing development of the discipline of pedology provided the opportunity to examine shallow water estuarine sediments within a pedological framework. Morphological and analytical data from 85 1.5- to 2.0-m profiles from Sinepuxent Bay, Maryland, indicate that the four pedogenic processes of additions, losses, transformations, and transfers outlined in the generalized theory of soil genesis are active in a subaqueous environment. The evidence of pedogenic processes includes the addition of biogenic calcium carbonate (shells), organic fragments, and organic matter; the loss of organic matter and surficial material; the transfer of oxygen through diffusion and bioturbation processes; and the transformation of humic substances and sulfur (sulfidization). The change in the concept of estuarine substrates from sediment to soil has significant ramifications for pedologists, ecologists, estuarine researchers, and government agencies involved in soil resource inventory and estuarine restoration programs. Application of these concepts could help further our understanding of the relationships between subaqueous soil distribution and submersed aquatic vegetation (SAV); clam, scallop, and oyster habitat; and dredge sites with potential acid-sulfate weathering. This work resulted in a change to the definition of soil in Soil Taxonomy to include subaqueous soils that are capable of or presently support rooted SAV.

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