Soil production and the soil geomorphology legacy of Grove Karl Gilbert

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Geomorphologists are quantifying the rates of an important component of bedrock's weathering in research that needs wide discussion among soil scientists. By using cosmogenic nuclides, geomorphologists estimate landscapes’ physical lowering, which, in a steady landscape, equates to upward transfers of weathered rock into slowly moving hillslope-soil creep. Since the 1990s, these processes have been called “soil production” or “mobile regolith production”. In this paper, we assert the importance of a fully integrated pedological and geomorphological approach not only to soil creep but to soil, regolith, and landscape evolution; we clarify terms to facilitate soil geomorphology collaboration; and we seek a greater understanding of our sciences’ history. We show how the legacy of Grove Karl Gilbert extend across soil geomorphology. We interpret three contrasting soils and regoliths in the USA's Southern Piedmont in the context of a Gilbert-inspired model of weathering and transport, a model of regolith evolution and of nonsteady systems that liberate particles and solutes from bedrock and transport them across the landscape. This exercise leads us to conclude that the Southern Piedmont is a region with soils and regoliths derived directly from weathering bedrock below (a regional paradigm for more than a century) but that the Piedmont also has significant areas in which regoliths are at least partly formed from paleo-colluvia that may be massive in volume and overlie organic-enriched layers, peat, and paleo-saprolite. An explicitly integrated study of soil geomorphology can accelerate our understanding of soil, regoliths, and landscape evolution in all physiographic regions.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Richter, DD; Eppes, MC; Austin, JC; Bacon, AR; Billings, SA; Brecheisen, Z; Ferguson, TA; Markewitz, D; Pachon, J; Schroeder, PA; Wade, AM

Published Date

  • January 1, 2020

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 84 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 1 - 20

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1435-0661

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0361-5995

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1002/saj2.20030

Citation Source

  • Scopus