Two very deep, red soils on a loess-mantled fluvial terrace of the Trebbia River in northern Italy were sampled and analyzed to determine their history and pedologic significance. Magnetostratigraphy confirms that the upper part of the terrace gravel and all of the 4-m-thick loess cover is normally magnetized and therefore less than about 780,000 yr. Artifacts collected from the oldest loess suggest an age of about 400,000 yr for the inception of loess deposition in this area. The soil horizons in loess dominantly have argillic or albic character, with redoximorphic features that include mottles, glossic tongues, and zones of ferromanganese concretions. Soil colors become progressively redder with depth in the loess cover and are most red, a 2.5 YR color hue, in the top of the terrace gravel. The upper horizons in gravel have abundant ghosts of completely weathered marl and sandstone. Rubification and weathering of stones diminishes with depth to fresh, slightly carbonate enriched parent material at 12 m. The heavy mineral composition of the sand fraction suggests minor discontinuities in loess-derived horizons. Abundance of opaque heavy minerals and picotite, which are resistant to weathering, increases from the soil surface to the base of the loess, is highest in the upper part of the terrace gravel, and decreases from there to the C horizon in gravel. Depth functions of major elements to Si in the medium silt fraction (10-30 μm) indicate a downward increase in degree of decalcification and of dissolution of primary minerals. Micromorphology adds detail to the interpretation of these complex soils: yellow complex ferriargillans are present in almost all horizons; they are rare at the top of the sequence in loess and become progressively more abundant with depth, reaching a maximum in the upper 3 m of the gravel and then decreasing with further depth to 12 m. We interpret this peak in abundance of yellow cutans to result from long continued clay illuviation to this depth from a succession of eluvial zones in the aggrading loessial sequence above. Distinctive red, hematite-rich argillans are abundant only in the upper horizons in the gravel. The red argillans relate to initial development of the soil in gravel, because they are included as pedorelicts in the deepest loess layer, where they are embedded in the yellow argillans. Stratigraphic and pedologic evidence indicates that these soils began forming in terrace gravel for perhaps 300,000 yr during the early middle Pleistocene. From this relict core these soils continued developing, both downward by continuing deep decalcification and argilluviation and upward as a sequence of wet Alfisols developed in a succession of loess layers that began aggrading about 400,000 yr ago. A paleoclimatic record can be perceived weakly in these soils, mainly by thick horizons of Fe-Mn nodules that mark boundaries between episodes of loess deposition that took place during glacial cold phases. Paleofeatures from one unit to another are similar in kind and intensity, indicating a degree of continuity of a basic set of pedogenic processes, principally decalcification, argilluviation, and redoximorphism. These soils can be regarded as Vetusols because a single dominant set of pedogenic features are represented in all parts of these soils and deeper parts of these aggrading super profiles have never been isolated from continuing pedogenic change to the present.

The role of time versus climate in the formation of deep soils of the Apennine fringe of the Po valley, Italy / A. Busacca, M. Cremaschi. - In: QUATERNARY INTERNATIONAL. - ISSN 1040-6182. - 51/52(1998), pp. 95-107. [10.1016/S1040-6182(97)00036-0]

The role of time versus climate in the formation of deep soils of the Apennine fringe of the Po valley, Italy

M. Cremaschi
1998

Abstract

Two very deep, red soils on a loess-mantled fluvial terrace of the Trebbia River in northern Italy were sampled and analyzed to determine their history and pedologic significance. Magnetostratigraphy confirms that the upper part of the terrace gravel and all of the 4-m-thick loess cover is normally magnetized and therefore less than about 780,000 yr. Artifacts collected from the oldest loess suggest an age of about 400,000 yr for the inception of loess deposition in this area. The soil horizons in loess dominantly have argillic or albic character, with redoximorphic features that include mottles, glossic tongues, and zones of ferromanganese concretions. Soil colors become progressively redder with depth in the loess cover and are most red, a 2.5 YR color hue, in the top of the terrace gravel. The upper horizons in gravel have abundant ghosts of completely weathered marl and sandstone. Rubification and weathering of stones diminishes with depth to fresh, slightly carbonate enriched parent material at 12 m. The heavy mineral composition of the sand fraction suggests minor discontinuities in loess-derived horizons. Abundance of opaque heavy minerals and picotite, which are resistant to weathering, increases from the soil surface to the base of the loess, is highest in the upper part of the terrace gravel, and decreases from there to the C horizon in gravel. Depth functions of major elements to Si in the medium silt fraction (10-30 μm) indicate a downward increase in degree of decalcification and of dissolution of primary minerals. Micromorphology adds detail to the interpretation of these complex soils: yellow complex ferriargillans are present in almost all horizons; they are rare at the top of the sequence in loess and become progressively more abundant with depth, reaching a maximum in the upper 3 m of the gravel and then decreasing with further depth to 12 m. We interpret this peak in abundance of yellow cutans to result from long continued clay illuviation to this depth from a succession of eluvial zones in the aggrading loessial sequence above. Distinctive red, hematite-rich argillans are abundant only in the upper horizons in the gravel. The red argillans relate to initial development of the soil in gravel, because they are included as pedorelicts in the deepest loess layer, where they are embedded in the yellow argillans. Stratigraphic and pedologic evidence indicates that these soils began forming in terrace gravel for perhaps 300,000 yr during the early middle Pleistocene. From this relict core these soils continued developing, both downward by continuing deep decalcification and argilluviation and upward as a sequence of wet Alfisols developed in a succession of loess layers that began aggrading about 400,000 yr ago. A paleoclimatic record can be perceived weakly in these soils, mainly by thick horizons of Fe-Mn nodules that mark boundaries between episodes of loess deposition that took place during glacial cold phases. Paleofeatures from one unit to another are similar in kind and intensity, indicating a degree of continuity of a basic set of pedogenic processes, principally decalcification, argilluviation, and redoximorphism. These soils can be regarded as Vetusols because a single dominant set of pedogenic features are represented in all parts of these soils and deeper parts of these aggrading super profiles have never been isolated from continuing pedogenic change to the present.
paleosuoli, geologia del quaternario, processi pedologici, italia settentrionale
Settore GEO/04 - Geografia Fisica e Geomorfologia
QUATERNARY INTERNATIONAL
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/2434/179246
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