The multiplicity of units present in a single loess bed greatly complicates the reconstruction of the history of polycyclic loess-derived soils. The present study implemented a combination of techniques to characterize different depositional events in a pedogenized loess formation of North-Western Italy. Field morphological observations, laboratory Particle Size Distribution (PSD) analyses, and single-grain image processing techniques were applied. Five different loess depositions, or cycles, were distinguished in the field. Laser PSD curves highlighted the fine nature of the studied loess, which stood out even in comparison to similar Italian loess-derived soils. All PSD functions showed a tri/bimodal distribution with a dominant peak at 8–14 μm, wider in younger depositions. The second most relevant peak, at 0.5–4 μm, displayed a greater intensity in older cycles where it also fell in correspondence of slightly bigger particles. The fine-grained nature of the loess was read as a sign of its alluvial origin, therefore the Po plain has been addressed as the source of the material. This hypothesis was supported by evidence of a dominant SE-to-NW paleo-wind direction, proved by the spatial trends of the coarse and fine silt fractions. The typical aeolian size-dependant depositional trait of one of the cycles (IV) was however opposite to that of the other four loess depositions. Therefore, the source of this material was attributed to a site North of the study area where, right behind the Lanzo ultramafic massif, an ice lobe stretched during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). Image analysis supported this hypothesis: as the loess grains of cycle IV were significantly darker colored than the others, this would agree with the provenance from an ultramafic source. In conclusion, the variety of applied techniques allowed us to combine different pieces of information in order to assess the physical and morphological properties of the studied loess-derived soils, trying to determine the most probable sources of the material and the weathering pathways.

Loess-derived polygenetic soils of North-Western Italy : A deep characterization of particle size, shape and color to draw insights about the past / S. Negri, E. Raimondo, M.E. D'Amico, S. Stanchi, A. Basile, E. Bonifacio. - In: CATENA. - ISSN 0341-8162. - 196(2021 Jan), pp. 104892.1-104892.12. [10.1016/j.catena.2020.104892]

Loess-derived polygenetic soils of North-Western Italy : A deep characterization of particle size, shape and color to draw insights about the past

M.E. D'Amico;
2021

Abstract

The multiplicity of units present in a single loess bed greatly complicates the reconstruction of the history of polycyclic loess-derived soils. The present study implemented a combination of techniques to characterize different depositional events in a pedogenized loess formation of North-Western Italy. Field morphological observations, laboratory Particle Size Distribution (PSD) analyses, and single-grain image processing techniques were applied. Five different loess depositions, or cycles, were distinguished in the field. Laser PSD curves highlighted the fine nature of the studied loess, which stood out even in comparison to similar Italian loess-derived soils. All PSD functions showed a tri/bimodal distribution with a dominant peak at 8–14 μm, wider in younger depositions. The second most relevant peak, at 0.5–4 μm, displayed a greater intensity in older cycles where it also fell in correspondence of slightly bigger particles. The fine-grained nature of the loess was read as a sign of its alluvial origin, therefore the Po plain has been addressed as the source of the material. This hypothesis was supported by evidence of a dominant SE-to-NW paleo-wind direction, proved by the spatial trends of the coarse and fine silt fractions. The typical aeolian size-dependant depositional trait of one of the cycles (IV) was however opposite to that of the other four loess depositions. Therefore, the source of this material was attributed to a site North of the study area where, right behind the Lanzo ultramafic massif, an ice lobe stretched during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). Image analysis supported this hypothesis: as the loess grains of cycle IV were significantly darker colored than the others, this would agree with the provenance from an ultramafic source. In conclusion, the variety of applied techniques allowed us to combine different pieces of information in order to assess the physical and morphological properties of the studied loess-derived soils, trying to determine the most probable sources of the material and the weathering pathways.
Loess; Image analysis; Loess cycles; Particle-size distribution
Settore AGR/14 - Pedologia
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/2434/874730
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