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Book Chapter

Soil and Landscape Memory of Climate Change–How Sensitive, How Connected?:

By
H. Curtis Monger
H. Curtis Monger
New Mexico State University, Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Las Cruces, New Mexico, 88003
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David M. Rachal
David M. Rachal
New Mexico State University, Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Las Cruces, New Mexico, 88003
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Published:
January 01, 2013

Abstract

Paleosols are important sources of information about climate change. They carry a “memory” of past environments as features such as pedogenic carbonate, carbon isotopes, profile depth, and degree of chemical weathering. Certain features, such as soil organic matter, are more rapidly adjusting (i.e., sensitive) to climate change than are other features, such as mineralogy which are slowly adjusting (i.e., resistant) to climate change, but have a longer memory. In addition, the landscape itself carries a memory of climate change through features such as patterned ground, dune fields, glacial moraines, and lake shorelines. As is the case for soils, some landscapes are more sensitive to climate change than others, and provide better sedimentary and paleosol records. A semiarid grassland on a sand sheet, for example, is more sensitive to climate change and will produce a better paleosol record than a neighboring semiarid grassland on a low-gradient terrain of bedrock outcrop. Landscapes and soil profiles are connected to each other, to the aboveground ecosystem, and to climate as a complex adaptive system. A perturbation to the system can change vegetative cover, initiate erosion, and leave a record in paleosols as both “soil memory” and “lithomemory” (i.e., sedimentary deposits vertically separated by paleosols). A systematic examination of soil memory and lithomemory can be used as a prospecting tool for finding paleosols with high resolution paleoclimatic records. Some of the best paleosol records are in landscapes with erodible regolith and topographic relief, where soil memory develops during periods of landscape stability and lithomemory develops during intervening periods of landscape instability when erosion and sedimentation rates are highest.

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Contents

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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