2006, pp 467-473

Soil Characteristics along a Transect on Raised Marine Surfaces on Byers Peninsula, Livingston Island, South Shetland Islands

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This paper presents the results of a soil survey carried out in Byers Peninsula to characterize some of the main features of soils and processes involved in soil development in the largest ice-free area in the South Shetland Islands. Soils were sampled in four different sites at altitudes between 24 and 88 m a.s.l., along a transect of about 1.5 km in the southwestern sector of the peninsula. The sampling sites are located on different geomorphological units from the Holocene raised beaches to the pre-Holocene upper marine platforms. It was found that general soil properties and elemental composition differ among the distinctive edaphic environments that conform the soils on the platforms and on the raised beaches. From the platform to the beach, pH and electrical conductivity values decrease, as well as the clay and silt percentages. Increases in carbonate and sand contents were observed along the transect. The variability in some elements (K, Fe, Al, Ca, Sr) appears to be related to mineralogy and parent materials. In the studied soils, the main factors affecting soil development are related to cryogenic processes. Lixiviation and other weathering processes also play a role in soil evolution although their influence is restricted because water circulation is limited to the summer period.