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Genesis of some alpine soils in British Columbia Sneddon, J. I.

Abstract

The classification of Canadian alpine soils has been hampered due to the lack of knowledge about their genesis and morphology. The objectives of this study were to determine the morphology of some alpine soils; determine their genesis through the investigation of physical, chemical and mineralogical properties; classify the soils and indicate what factors should be considered in making alterations to the present system of soil classification. Five soils were analysed and three of these were found to have been influenced by volcanic ash. No one process was found to be characteristic of alpine soils. The analyses indicated clays, amorphous iron, aluminum, silicon and organic matter were being eluviated. At four sites organic matter was accumulating to form an acidic Chernozem-like Ah horizon. The mineralogical investigations indicated more advanced stages of weathering of minerals than expected in an alpine environment, with the concomittant formation of pedogenic secondary minerals. In an attempt to classify the soils it was found that only three out of the five soils studied could be classified. Two soils were classified as a members of the Brunisolic Order, the third was placed into the Podzolic Order. The two soils which could not be classified were excluded as no provision at any categorical level of classification is made for soils with non-turfy Alpine Dystric Brunisol Ah horizons, overlying Podzolic Bf horizons. Considerations that should be given attention in relation to the present system of classification of Canadian soils are: (a) The presence of volcanic ash in soils has a morphological and physico-chemical influence on changes taking place in the soil. (b) Alpine soils are not limited to one morphology but can express any number of characteristics depending on environmental factors.

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