Wednesday, September 23, 2015

2015 Region V Collegiate Soil Judging Contest: Day 2


The practice pits today were located in the Chippewa National Forest north of the town of Deer River, a half hour west of Grand Rapids. The first pit was located on an outwash plain under towering red pines.

The soil exposed in the first pit, which was located on a broad summit position, had a thin loess cap with an ochric epipedon, some weak development of spodic materials in the sand beneath it, and very nice thin lamellae below that, though certainly not enough to make an argillic horizon.



Photo 1. Soil profile from the first pit. 





Photo 2. Closeup showing some lamellae (dark wavy lines) in the lighter sandy matrix. 




Photo 3.  A close examination of the pit reveals many interesting features. (l to r) Leslee Jackson, Rusty Zimmerman, and Teng Vang.


The second pit was located in a footstep position and was somewhat wetter. Red maples started to appear among the red pines and a few black ash were also present. This soil was also formed in outwash with a thin loess cap. Some thin, mostly discontinuous lamellae were present, and redoximorphic features were plentiful in the lower parts of the profile.



Photo 4. The second pit was quite a bit wetter and had an incipient sporadic horizon and some well-developed redoximorphic features. 


The second set of pits were located on a broad summit a few miles away in on a glacial moraine landscape. Basswood, aspen, maple, and balsam fir were the dominant forest species. The third site of the day had a moderately thick loess cap over loamy glacial till. The texture was considerably heavier than the previous two sites. 


Photo 5. Rusty Zimmerman examines the profile for the third pit. 



Photo 6. Most of the samples have been collected and now it's time to analyze them: texture, color, consistence, effervescence, and so forth. (l to r) Sondra Larson, Andrea Williams, Amanda Wolff, Teng Vang, Leslee Jackson, and Rusty Zimmerman.


The last site was located in a footstep position near the third site. It was not officially described, but had a thin coarse-texture loess or aeolian fine sands over glaciolacustrine sediments over sandy glacial till with numerous  coarse fragments.

Tomorrow we head east to view soils formed in the Glacial Lake Upham basin near Floodwood. Many of the soils there are organic soils, which will be a new experience for all of the nearly 100 students in the competition. Should be a great experience!

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