Friday, 14 July 2006

Classification of Anthropogenic Soils in WRB.

Alan Kosse, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Gallup, NM 87302

Use of the term anthropogenic soils to refer generally to human agency is to be deplored since the term has a precise technical meaning in soil science, but it does not seem possible to resist a concerted effort by all parties to retain the term in its present more general usage. Possibly this simply reflects the nascent nature of the discipline or the inadequacy of the English language to express concepts of this kind. Soil scientists have generally been slow to appreciate a fundamental distinction between anthropedogenesis and anthropogeomorpholgy in understanding anthropogenic soil changes. The original FAO Legend preserved this ambiguity to the detriment of progress in defining anthropogenic soils. Progress in defining Antrosols in the WRB has been steady once the concept of anthropedogenesis was fully grasped, but still many of the definitions need to be tested in the field, and sufficient “room” needs to be allowed for inclusion of intergrades in the system. Review of the current draft proposals suggests much work needs to be done along these lines if the system is to maintain its usefulness. It may be useful to present a more consistent methodological statement to make the concepts clear. A recent attempt to clarify concepts made use of the fundamental soil-forming equation (Kosse 2005), and there seems little reason to apologize for falling back on Jenny's classical work. The logic of the system would repay considerably any attempt to bring clarity to the study of anthropogenic soil changes. I consider Jenny's earliest work (1941) to probably re present the best framework for undertaking studies of this kind. Conceptual models of this kind are necessary to fully grasp the important distinction between anthropedogenesis and anthropogeomophology. Recognition of separate anthropogenic domains for pedogenesis and geomorphology seem long overdue and would allow greater consistency in classification. Current draft proposals for a separate reference group of Technosols in WRB for soils where anthropogeomporphic processes predominate has not received universal acclaim. While I would favor recognition of just such a new reference group, use of the term Technosols has been used previously in a more restrictive sense. Review of the current draft proposal for Technosols does not provide sufficient clarity in separating these soils from Anthrosols. Additionally, the minutiae of the classification system seem inimical to the basic philosophy of WRB, which is to provide a reference base for general use. Such ponderous details seriously unbalance the whole system, regardless of how important urban soils will be in the future. While perhaps special pleading, proposals for setting up a separate reference group of Noosols (Kosse 2001) would seem to resolve many of the problems and allow for the recognition of distinct noogenic soil materials (Kosse 2004). This could even be successfully arranged in a key, which would greatly simplify recognition in the field. Jenny, H. 1941. Factors of soil formation. McGraw-Hill Book Co. Inc., New York. Kosse, A. 2001. Classification of minesoils: some radical proposals. p. 418-424. In Proceedings 18th Annual National Meeting of the American Society of Mining and Reclamation (Albuquerque, NM, June 3-7, 2001). Kosse, A. 2004. Recognition of noogenic soil materials in classifying mine soils. p.1147-1156. In Proceedings of a Joint Conference of American Society of Mining and Reclamation 21st Annual National Conference and 25th West Virginia Surface Mine Drainage Task Force Symposium (Morgantown, WV, April 18-22, 2004). Kosse, A. 2005. The time factor in understanding anthropogenic soil changes. p.38-39. International Conference Global Soil Change. Program and Abstracts (Mexico City, March 10-18, 2005).

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