Wednesday, November 15, 2006 - 9:30 AM

Pedology of an Arid Mountain Range, Mojave Desert, CA.

Daniel Hirmas and Robert Graham. Univ of California, 1419 Hallberry Dr, Riverside, CA 92507

The soils of arid mountains are hypothesized to be important from a variety of standpoints. They directly control watersheds behavior and thus have a primary influence on the distribution of water across desert bolsons. Since arid mountains have a significant role in low altitude wind patterns, their soils offer enormous potential for dust trapping and consequently, for the sequestration of entrained inorganic carbon.  However, very little is understood about these highly heterogeneous soils themselves, or the role they have in larger soil-geomorphic processes of desert ecosystems. In order to understand and quantify these processes, 45 soil pits were hand excavated, described, and sampled across six major watersheds of the southern Fry Mountains in the Mojave Desert of California. Pits were randomly located within various geomorphic units that were delineated from aerial stereographic coverage of the site. The distribution and number of pits were arranged to meet the objectives of this project which were to: (1) determine patterns of soil properties within and across geomorphic units, (2) quantify the amount of dust and carbonate stored in these soils, and (3) recognize and describe interesting soil features unique to these arid mountain environments. Soil pits revealed an extremely complex system and appear to suggest arid mountain soils are an important link in our understanding of arid landscapes. These results, discerned from soil descriptions and chemical and physical analyses, will be presented.