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A Short History and Long Future for Paleopedology:

By
Gregory J. Retallack
Gregory J. Retallack
Department of Geological Sciences, University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon 97302, USA
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Published:
January 01, 2013

Abstract

The concept of paleosols dates back to the eighteenth century discovery of buried soils, geological unconformities, and fossil forests, but the term paleopedology was first coined by Boris B. Polynov in 1927. During the mid-twentieth century in the United States, paleopedology became mired in debates about recognition of Quaternary paleosols, and in controversy over the red-bed problem. By the 1980s, a new generation of researchers envisaged red beds as sequences of paleosols and as important archives of paleoenvironmental change. At about the same time, Precambrian geochemists began sophisticated analyses of paleosols at major unconformities as a guide to the long history of atmospheric oxidation. It is now widely acknowledged that evidence from paleosols can inform studies of stratigraphy, sedimentology, paleoclimate, paleoecology, global change, and astrobiology. For the future, there is much additional potential for what is here termed “nomopedology,” using pedotransfer functions derived from past behavior of soils to predict global and local change in the future. Past greenhouse crises have been of varied magnitude, and paleosols reveal both levels of atmospheric CO2 and degree of concomitant paleoclimatic change. Another future development is “astropedology”, completing a history of soils on early Earth, on other planetary bodies such as the Moon and Mars, and within meteorites formed on planetismals during the origin of the solar system.

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SEPM Special Publication

New Frontiers in Paleopedology and Terrestrial Paleoclimatology: Paleosols and Soil Surface Analog Systems

Steven G. Driese
Steven G. Driese
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Lee C. Nordt
Lee C. Nordt
Department of Geology, Baylor University, One Bear Place #97354, Waco, Texas 76798-7354, USA
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SEPM Society for Sedimentary Geology
Volume
104
ISBN electronic:
9781565763036
Publication date:
January 01, 2013

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