The Farmdale-Sangamon Geosol pedocomplex consists of the Sangamon Geosol and the overlying Farmdale Geosol, which form the most extensive terrestrial record of the last interglacial to glacial transition in the Midwest United States. The geosol complex formed for upwards of 100 ka, extending from the end of MIS 6 through 4 for the Sangamon Geosol, then the Farmdale Geosol for during a brief episode at the end of MIS 3 following slow accumulation and pedogenic modification of eolian silt deposited on top of the Sangamon Geosol. Our study site consists of a buried paleo-hillslope transect that forms a catena, enabling evaluation of slope effects on interglacial-scale soil formation. The Sangamon Geosol is formed in calcareous and illitic glaciogenic sediment. Along the catena the Sangamon Geosol profiles display some morphological changes, namely in terms of colors that we interpret as indicators of differences in drainage. Most thickness and horizonation characteristics are similar all along the transect, with intact upper sola horizons (AE and E horizons) that overlie clay-enriched Bt horizons. The Bt horizons contain abundant clay that exists as illuvial clay coatings, matrix infills, and as mosaic-speckled domains. The clay originated both by in situ weathering and through illuviation from the clay depleted upper sola. Slope does not appear to affect Bt characteristics beyond redder hues of the matrix and clay coatings in the upper slope position. With depth, effects of carbonate leaching and infilling of clay in the matrix decrease and clay coatings are restricted to walls of voids adjacent to aggregates. Clay mineralogy shows illite depletion, but no interstratified kaolinite-expandable minerals, indicating the degree of weathering is not as great as is typical of Sangamon Geosol profiles formed in loess or in glaciogenic sediment of the central Illinois type area. Clay mineralogy is also stratified with depth, coincident with particle size, which probably indicates sorting of layers of illitic dolomite and shale. Variation of horizon and profile characteristics appears to largely be a function of particle size variability and stratification than topographic position in the catena. The influence of hillslope position on soil redistribution during formation of the Sangamon Geosol appears negligible given the uniformity of upper solum horizon thickness and sandy particle size characteristics, so we conclude that a bioturbation and rainwash origin of the upper solum and the texture contrast in these profiles is not the best process model explanation. We suggest that the base-rich nature of these soils led to ecosystem characteristics that discouraged erosion and encouraged infiltration and a lessivage-type origin of the texture contrast. No convincing evidence of MIS 6 through MIS 4 loess occurs at this site. The Farmdale Geosol formed in the Robein Silt, which is Roxana Silt (MIS 3 loess) that was redistributed downslope. The Robein Silt is thicker and finer in the topographic low and indicates the cooler and forested environmental conditions during MIS 3 were conducive to downslope movement of soil and also produced greater differences in drainage-induced soil morphological changes in the Farmdale Geosol.
- Last interglacial
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Earth-Surface Processes