Saturday, 15 July 2006

Soils Developed from Volcanics in Keller Peninsula, King George Island, Antarctica: Formation and Mapping.

Marcio R. Francelino Sr.1, Carlos E.G.R. Schaefer2, Elpidio I. Fernandes Filho2, Felipe N.B. Simas2, and Manoel Ricardo Albuquerque3. (1) Universidade Federal Rural do Rio de Janeiro, Departamento de Silvicultura BR 465 Km 07, Seropedica - RJ, Brazil, (2) Departamento do Solos-Universidade Federal de Višosa, Campus da Universidade, Višosa, Brazil, (3) EMBRAPA, CNPC, Palmas - TO, 25000000, Brazil

The King George Island, in the South Shetland arquipelago, has approximately 8% of ice-free areas, all of which formed by volcanic rocks, ranging from acid to basic types, varying in ejecta, lava and tephra deposits. There, the degree of soil development is highly variable, ranging from extremes such as skeletal pedons to histic epipedons, and is closely associated with the presence of plants, organic matter incorporation, N and P inputs from ornithogenesis. Under Maritime Antarctica climate, periglacial conditions prevail in coastal areas, with active cryoturbation, enchancing soil losses by erosion and developing typic periglacial landforms. In this work, we aimed to carry out a detailed soil survey of Keller Peninsula, based on stereoscopical interpretation of aerial photographs obtained by the Brazilian Cryosols Project in 2003, at 1:5000 scale, forming a mosaic of 24 photographs. Following extensive field work, twenty-six soil profiles were dug and sampled, down to the permafrost depth. Fourteen (14) soil units and three (3) types of terrains were mapped (Table 1), according to WRB-FAO system. Approximately 45% of the total area does not possess soil development, being classified as active scree slopes. In the remaining 55%, soils keying out as Cryosols and Leptosols are dominant, the latter being closely associated with stable landforms, such as felsenmeer and rocky plateaux. They are generally covered by crustose and fruticose lichens, dominated by Usnea sp. Ornithogenic soils are shallower than in other similar sites of south Shetlands, being mostly associated with high marine terraces and rocky benches along the coast. They are generally coverred by a more diverse plant cover, including Deschampsia antarctica and Colobanthus sp. Areas of fluvio-glacial deposits have Fluvisols, covering 0,2% of the total area. Small areas of Gelic Regosols occur in association with other soils. A preliminary suggestion for the Classification of these soils within the USDA Soil Taxonomy framework is presented and discussed.


This study was supported from the Brazilian Antarctic Program (PROANTAR), CNPq and Brazilian Navy.

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