Monday, November 13, 2006 - 9:40 AM

Wave of the Future? - Subaqueous Landforms, Soils, and Soil Classification.

Philip Schoeneberger and Douglas Wysocki. USDA-NRCS, 100 N Centennial Mall, MS-34, Lincoln, NE 68508

Pedologists use landforms to understand, explain, and effectively predict soil patterns on terrestrial landscapes.  In subaqueous settings soil-to-landform relationships are even more important because observational difficulty increases which in turn limits observation numbers and locations.  Identifying and naming subaqueous or terrestrial landforms serves three main purposes: framework (understanding, prediction), communication, classification.  1)  Framework: Landforms are the basic entity of terrestrial soil geomorphology.  Subaqueous features (“landforms”) provide a spatial framework to understand and accurately predict soil and sediment occurrence.  The present NRCS / NCSS schemes for describing landforms are process-based.  This approach links landforms, sediment bodies (parent materials), and soil distribution.  2) Communication: Landform recognition and naming is a succinct and effective means to communicate general context and associated soil patterns.  However, subaqueous landform terminology is limited.  We developed a glossary of subaqueous terms to facilitate geomorphic understanding, aid communication, and promote consistent terminology use among soil scientists and across scientific disciplines. Subaqueous landforms and sediments share similarities and yet have differences from their terrestrial analogues.  Not all landforms are exclusively terrestrial or subaqueous (e.g. washover fan)].  3) Classification: Ultimately, subaqueous landforms and soils need to be arrayed in meaningful groups linked to key attributes and behavior (i.e. classified).  Initial proposals have been developed to address this need within Soil Taxonomy.