A beach ridge and dune complex with good radiocarbon control sampling the last 3500 radiocarbon years B.P. provides new insights on the early genesis of clay bands in sandy soils. Soil profiles were sampled by age groups, described in the field, and then subjected to laboratory analyses for particle-size distribution, pH, organic carbon, carbonate minerals, and extractable iron and manganese. This study suggests that small increases in pH, brought about by small increases in carbonate content within the soil profile, are responsible for flocculating small amounts of illuviated clay. This process, along with a transition to a greater hydraulic conductivity with soil depth due to coarser textures in any given profile, partly explains the existence and possible reason for the initiation of illuvial zones and eventually for clay-band horizons. A pronounced increase in the thickness of incipient clay-band horizons in soils older than 2300 years appears due to finer textures in the parent materials than are present in younger soils. Because of slightly reduced porosity and lower permeability, carbonates and a high pH are retained in both illuvial and eluvial horizons of some of these older soils. In addition, only in those profiles older than 2300 years do clay and iron oxide concentrations coincide and is there some suggestion of greater amounts of extractable manganese in horizons of minimum iron and clay. A pronounced segregation of clay-iron bands is not apparent at the study area but should occur in future years as additional amounts of iron and clay are deposited.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Soil Science