Quaternary Resources in Canada
D.F. Acton, W.A.D. Edwards, L.E. Jackson, Jr., S.R. Morison, E.W. Presant, C. Tarnocai, K.W.G. Valentine, K. Webb, 1989. "Quaternary Resources in Canada", Quaternary Geology of Canada and Greenland, R.J. Fulton
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Soils are one of Canada’s premier Quaternary resources. They sustain agriculture, forestry, and wildlife resources. Soil is the product of the interaction of passive parent material (bedrock or Quaternary sediments) and physiography, and the active elements of climate, flora, and fauna. Most soils in Canada have formed since the end of the last glaciation (18 to 8 ka).
Many of the physical, mineralogical, and chemical properties of soils in Canada are inherited from the parent material. These, in turn, are the results of Quaternary geological events. For example, soils of the Interior Plains are almost stoneless where they have developed on glacial lake sediments, but are stony where they have developed on hummocky moraine or glaciofluvial gravels. Where the covering of glacial sediments has been removed by Holocene erosion, soils are commonly sodic because of the exposure of Cretaceous shales. Former glacial flow patterns may be reflected in the regional distribution of minerals, within the soil — carbonate minerals are an important example. Similar influences of parent material on the physical, mineralogical, and chemical properties of soils can be cited from all regions of Canada.
There is estimated to be more than 100×106 ha of peatlands in Canada. Because of great variations in climate and physiographic situations, peatlands occur in a wide range of types. The physical and chemical characteristics of peat materials associated with peatlands depend on their botanical composition and the region in which they were deposited. There are approximately 3×1012 m3 or 335×109 t of dry peat in Canada.