Pedological studies in thick sedimentary sequences are generally limited to the upper few meters. Field investigation of thick (~50 m) sand deposits on an emergent Pleistocene marine terrace in central California showed morphological differences between the solum at the surface and the deep regolith. Based on morphological and geochemical features, four units were identified within the regolith. Two zones of active pedogenesis occur within three of these units. The surficial unit is in Holocene sand deposits (mixed, thermic, Argic Xeropsamments), and has darkened A horizons, a slightly reddened subsoil, and incipient lamellae at the depth of wetting front infiltration. These lamellae have slightly more day and Fe oxides than the soil above. Mineral weathering is intense at the surface. The other zone of active pedogenesis is at the base of the regolith, where a lithologic discontinuity above the terrace platform forms an aquitard, and throughflow occurs. Meteoric water percolates through thin regolith deposits above the shoreline angle, and at other locations on the terrace where sediment has been removed by erosion. Percolating water carries clay, organic matter, and solutes to the water table. Weathering is intense within this basal unit. Illuviation of clays and Fe oxides, and precipitation of Fe oxides and silica occur within this unit. As pore space is filled, fractures and channels become paths for saturated water flow. Eluviation of Fe occurs at these sites. Most of the intervening regolith is isolated from current pedogenesis by its great depth and a relatively dry Holocene climate. Well-developed lamellae are preserved as relicts of Pleistocene episodes of soil formation. These lamellae formed by illuviation of clay and Fe oxides, and were sites of silica precipitation. The conceptual model presented here is intended to facilitate understanding of pedogenic and geomorphological evolution of marine terrace deposits, and to assist with the interpretation of groundwater flow in these terrace systems.


Environmental Sciences



URL: https://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/nrm_fac/53