Soil degradation by processes such as soil erosion, shallow landslides, debris-flows etc. is a significant problem in mountain areas, and is a crucial issue for natural hazard assessment in mountain areas. Several soil properties, among which are the liquid and plastic limits, i.e. moisture contents for which a soil passes from the plastic to liquid state (liquid limit, LL) and from the semisolid to plastic state (PL, plastic limit), have been proposed as indicators for soil vulnerability to degradation processes, both of natural and anthropogenic origin. In this research we investigated the liquid and plastic limits of the main soil groups ofWorld Reference Base for Soil Resources (WRB) classification present in Aosta Valley (N–WItalian Alps) from a pedogenic perspective. In particular, we compared 1) soils at different stages of development; and 2) different genetic horizons. Our main aim was to provide and interpret data on soils' consistency and mechanical behavior that may be used as indexes for the assessment of soil vulnerability. Despite its relatively small area, the Aosta Valley is characterized by a wide range of soil types. Sixty-two soils with different profile evolution stages, representative of 7 WRB soil groups,were investigated and LL and PL in genetic horizons were studied at the soil type and genetic horizons level. In general, soil consistency was largely determined by the organic matter content (both in topsoils and organic matter-enriched subsurface horizons), but in spodic horizons and some C horizons a role of poorly crystalline and pedogenic iron oxides was observed too. Considering the vulnerability to consistency loss, that can result in erosion processes and overall soil degradation, surface horizons were generally less vulnerable, as could be expected on the basis of previous research, i.e. showed higher LL and PL values, than the deeper ones, generally characterized by a reduction of soil consistency. Therefore, topsoil could receive higher water inputs while still preserving their consistency and strength. This was not confirmed in Podzols, where the organic matter enrichment of spodic horizons determined a discontinuity in physical properties between the E horizons (more vulnerable) and the underlying, spodic ones. The same trend was observed for Calcisols with a deep cemented Bkm horizon. The research provided a novel overview on LL and PL in the common soil types present in the Alpine region, integrating the already existing research on topsoil vulnerability to degradation processes (erosion, consistency losses, losses of strength), and the regional soil database. The use of LL and PL as indicators of soil physical quality was approached with a pedogenic perspective, which might be helpful for a better definition of hazard assessment at the regional scale.

Liquid and plastic limits of mountain soils as a function of the soil and horizon type / S. Stanchi, M. D'Amico, E. Zanini, M. Freppaz. - In: CATENA. - ISSN 0341-8162. - 135(2015), pp. 114-121. [10.1016/j.catena.2015.07.021]

Liquid and plastic limits of mountain soils as a function of the soil and horizon type

M. D'Amico;E. Zanini;M. Freppaz
2015

Abstract

Soil degradation by processes such as soil erosion, shallow landslides, debris-flows etc. is a significant problem in mountain areas, and is a crucial issue for natural hazard assessment in mountain areas. Several soil properties, among which are the liquid and plastic limits, i.e. moisture contents for which a soil passes from the plastic to liquid state (liquid limit, LL) and from the semisolid to plastic state (PL, plastic limit), have been proposed as indicators for soil vulnerability to degradation processes, both of natural and anthropogenic origin. In this research we investigated the liquid and plastic limits of the main soil groups ofWorld Reference Base for Soil Resources (WRB) classification present in Aosta Valley (N–WItalian Alps) from a pedogenic perspective. In particular, we compared 1) soils at different stages of development; and 2) different genetic horizons. Our main aim was to provide and interpret data on soils' consistency and mechanical behavior that may be used as indexes for the assessment of soil vulnerability. Despite its relatively small area, the Aosta Valley is characterized by a wide range of soil types. Sixty-two soils with different profile evolution stages, representative of 7 WRB soil groups,were investigated and LL and PL in genetic horizons were studied at the soil type and genetic horizons level. In general, soil consistency was largely determined by the organic matter content (both in topsoils and organic matter-enriched subsurface horizons), but in spodic horizons and some C horizons a role of poorly crystalline and pedogenic iron oxides was observed too. Considering the vulnerability to consistency loss, that can result in erosion processes and overall soil degradation, surface horizons were generally less vulnerable, as could be expected on the basis of previous research, i.e. showed higher LL and PL values, than the deeper ones, generally characterized by a reduction of soil consistency. Therefore, topsoil could receive higher water inputs while still preserving their consistency and strength. This was not confirmed in Podzols, where the organic matter enrichment of spodic horizons determined a discontinuity in physical properties between the E horizons (more vulnerable) and the underlying, spodic ones. The same trend was observed for Calcisols with a deep cemented Bkm horizon. The research provided a novel overview on LL and PL in the common soil types present in the Alpine region, integrating the already existing research on topsoil vulnerability to degradation processes (erosion, consistency losses, losses of strength), and the regional soil database. The use of LL and PL as indicators of soil physical quality was approached with a pedogenic perspective, which might be helpful for a better definition of hazard assessment at the regional scale.
Atterberg limits; WRB reference soil groups; Genetic horizon: Vulnerability; Alps
Settore AGR/14 - Pedologia
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/2434/874642
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