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Elevation, Age, Soil Development, and Chemical Weathering at Storbreen, Jotunheimen, Norway

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Chemical weathering and associated soil development trends on glacial forelands are commonly assumed to exhibit increases with time elapsed since glaciation. However, this gross trend is complicated by several other factors including elevation, aspect, and microtopography. This paper demonstrates that on the glacial foreland at Storbreen, Jotunheimen, Norway, chemical weathering and associated soil development trends show significant elevational influences. We sampled soils at shallow depths (0–1, 1–5, and 15–20 cm) at two sites on a moraine dated to 1750 at its elevational extremes of 1155 m (site L) and 1385 m (site H). The two moraine sites also differed developmentally from an adjacent 9000-year-old surface (site T) at an intermediate elevation, 1205 m. Analyses were conducted on the fine-earth fractions. Extractable elemental composition exhibited detectable differences between the same-age soils at different elevations with the lower site L tending to have measured parameters intermediate between the high site H and the older site T. Weathering, as indicated by mineralogy, was more pronounced at the 9000-year-old site T and least evident at the high elevation site H. In addition, elevation under the conditions of the field research may inhibit pedogenesis as indicated by the chemical data. Site H, for example, showed little variation with depth and had in general, less organic matter accumulation, smaller C:N ratio, greater pH, and lesser amounts of the measured extractable elements than the soil at site L. Site T generally had smaller pH and larger levels of the measured elements than the other sites. It was concluded that elevation has a significant control on weathering and pedogenesis that may mask the effects of age in this cold and wet environment.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA, 2: Department of Geography, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA

Publication date: 1997-12-01

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