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Soil geomorphology of the eastern Sevilleta Long Term Ecological Research Site


Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1928/20808

Soil geomorphology of the eastern Sevilleta Long Term Ecological Research Site

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Title: Soil geomorphology of the eastern Sevilleta Long Term Ecological Research Site
Author: Bryan-Ricketts, Debra
Advisor(s): McFadden, Leslie
Committee Member(s): Meyer, Grant
Moore, Duane
Sharp, Zachary
Collins, Scott
Department: University of New Mexico. Dept. of Earth and Planetary Sciences
Subject: sepiolite
Sevilleta Long Term Ecological Research Site
Rio Grande Rift
pedogenic carbonate
stable carbon isotopes
stable oxygen isotopes
calcic soils
soil pisoliths
soil carbonate
LC Subject(s): Paleopedology--New Mexico--Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge.
Paleogeography--New Mexico--Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge.
Soils--New Mexico--Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge.
Geomorphology--New Mexico--Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge.
Rio Grande Rift.
Degree Level: Doctoral
Abstract: Soils in the arid to semi-arid piedmont landscapes of central New Mexico were examined in order to evaluate surficial processes and landscape evolution in the central Rio Grande Rift. These soils were found to contain key information regarding pedologic and geomorphic responses to climate change, rifting and base level drop. A rare association of sepiolite and palygorskite occurs in old soils formed in eolian fines. Pedologic and mineralogical data indicate that palygorskite formed by transformation of dust-borne, aluminum-rich minerals, and that sepiolite subsequently formed by transformation of palygorskite. The association of these two minerals, and geomorphic observations, confirm the existence of a 1 – 3.5 Ma abandoned geomorphic surface of the ancestral Rio Grande. In contrast to Mormon Mesa, Nevada, and Ogallala Formation paleosols, massive cementation by pedogenic carbonate, and chaotic pedogenic carbonate pendants are notably absent in soils formed on the 1 – 3.5 Ma surface. It is hypothesized that abandonment of geomorphic surfaces, largely due to down-cutting by the ancestral Rio Grande, and slow accumulation of fine eolian sediments resulted in the absence of well-developed petrocalcic soil properties usually observed in soils of this age. Other geomorphic observations confirm the hypothesis of an ancestral Palo Duro drainage in the McKensie Flats Basin. In contrast to monogenetic soils, only one polygenetic soil demonstrates stable carbon isotope depth trends similar to the diffusion model of Cerling et al. (1989). Low delta 13C carbonate values in the near-surface reflect the introduction of exogenous material. Low delta 13C carbonate values at >50 cm of depth reflect buried rooting zones of plant assemblages that occurred in the past. An association between buried soil boundaries and shifts in delta 13C carbonate depth trends indicates that changes in C3 and C4 plant assemblages have occurred in the past. These shifts may reflect paleo-environmental conditions present when the soils formed, over-printing of Holocene paleo-environmental conditions onto older soils, or “time-averaged” combinations of both records. Microtopography, soil grain size, induration, and surface clast cover potentially influence the distributions of Larrea tridentata, Bouteloua gracilis, and Bouteloua eriopoda. However, distributions of these species were not affected by lithology, soil age, soil salinity, or high soil pH.
Graduation Date: May 2012
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1928/20808

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