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This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 75 No. 4, p. 1462-1470
     
    Received: Sept 8, 2010


    * Corresponding author(s): karen.vaughan@ut.usda.gov
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doi:10.2136/sssaj2010.0341

Episodic Soil Succession on Basaltic Lava Fields in a Cool, Dry Environment

  1. Karen L. Vaughan *,
  2. Paul A. McDaniel and
  3. William M. Phillips
  1. U SDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service 245 Jimmy Doolittle Rd. Salt Lake City, UT 84116
    D ep. Plant, Soil, and Entomological Sciences, Univ. of Idaho, P.O. Box 442339, Moscow, ID 83844-2339
    I daho Geological Survey, P.O. Box 443014, Moscow, ID 83844-3014

Abstract

Holocene- to late Pleistocene-aged lava flows at Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve provide an ideal setting to examine the early stages of soil formation under cool, dry conditions. Transects were used to characterize the amount and nature of soil cover on across basaltic lava flows ranging in age from 2.1 to 18.4 ka. Results indicate that on flows <13 ka, very shallow organic soils (Folists in Soil Taxonomy) are the dominant soil type, providing an areal coverage of up to ∼25%. On flows ≥13.9 ka, deeper mineral soils including Entisols, Aridisols, and Mollisols become dominant and the areal extent increases to ≥95% on flows older than 18.4 ka. These data suggest there are two distinct pedogenic pathways associated with lava flows of the region. The first pathway is illustrated by the younger flows, where Folists dominate. In the absence of a major source of loess, relatively little mineral material accumulates and soils provide only minor coverage of the lava flows. Our results indicate that this pathway of soil development has not changed appreciably over the past ∼10 ka. The second pedogenic pathway is illustrated by the flows older than 13.9 ka. These flows have been subject to deposition of large quantities of loess during and after the last regional glaciation, resulting in almost complete coverage. Subsequent pedogenesis has given rise to Aridisols and Mollisols with calcic and cambic horizons and mollic epipedons. This research highlights the importance of regional climate change on the evolution of Craters of the Moon soilscapes.

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