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Quaternary Soils and Dust Deposition in Southern Nevada and California

Dates

Publication Date
Time Period
1995
File Modification Date
2013-05-16 14:08:10

Summary

Eolian dust constitutes most of the pedogenic material in latePleistocene and Holocene soils of many arid regions. Comparison ofthe compositions and influx rates of modern dust with the eoliancomponent of dated soils at 24 sites in southern Nevada andCalifornia yields information on: (1) the composition and influxrate of dust in late Pleistocene and Holocene soils, (2) paleoclimateand its effects on the genesis of aridic soils, especially withregard to "dust events", (3) the timing and relative contribution ofdust from playa sources versus alluvial sources, and (4) the effectsof accumulation of fines in soil horizons. The A and B horizons ofsoils formed on gravelly alluvial-fan deposits in the study area aresimilar to modern dust in [...]

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Purpose

The presence of eolian dust in soils and the relative contribution ofdust to soil formation in both arid and humid areas has been debatedfor decades. Most researchers now agree that dust is a ubiquitouscomponent of soils formed in arid areas, although some argue thatcalcareous dust does not contribute significantly to the content ofpedogenic calcium carbonate in some localities. Detailed studies ofdust influx facilitate studies of paleoclimate based on modelling ofsoil-forming processes such as translocation of pedogenic carbonate.Most research on the eolian component of soils has focused onidentifying the presence of dust and estimating its proportionrelative to soil parent materials and in-situ weathering products.Despite general agreement on the importance of dust to soil genesis,few studies have compared modern rates of dust deposition toestimated amounts of dust in soils of known age to compare thecompositions and deposition rates of modern dust to dust in soils.Quantitative comparisons are important to studies of soil genesis,paleoclimatic reconstruction from soil properties, and soilchronosequences used to estimate the ages of surfaces and deposits.For example, soils that formed downwind of a large dust source may besignificantly better developed than soils of the same age that formedin sheltered areas. A project to study modern dust deposition insouthern Nevada and California was initiated in 1984 to provide dataon modern dust composition and influx rates for use in a numericalmodel relating soil carbonate to paleoclimate and insoil-chronosequence studies in the southern Great Basin and MojaveDesert (fig. 1) in support of tectonic and stratigraphicinvestigations for the Yucca Mountain Project. In this paper, werelate the composition of modern dust to soil properties and comparemodern rates of dust influx with late Pleistocene and Holocene ratesestimated from soils at 24 sites in southern Nevada and California.

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processingUrl http://sciencebase.org/metadata/geo-nsdi.er.usgs.gov/metadata/other/gsa-bulletin-107/metadata.xml

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