Fly ash use as a time marker in sedimentation studies

R. L. Jones, K. R. Olson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Fly ash from coal burning often takes the form of magnetic spherules, making it easy to separate and identify. Illinois soils near to and remote from known sources of fly ash were studied to evaluate ash incidence and accumulation of ash-bearing sediments in the profile. Concentrations >75% occurred in the magnetic fraction of the surface horizon (mostly in the top 12.5 cm) of a soil on an uncultivated, stable ridgetop near Springfield, IL. On the nearby Sangamon River floodplain, fly ash occurred in large numbers to the 25-cm depth, and in lesser numbers to 45 cm, the top of a buried, organic-C-rich layer. This buried layer may represent the surface in the 1850s, when railroads and perhaps also industrial boilers were introduced. In depositional horizons of soils from remote sites, fly ash occurred at levels of <1%; it probably came from steam locomotives and, perhaps, steam-powered farm machinery. -from Authors

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)855-859
Number of pages5
JournalSoil Science Society of America Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1990
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science


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