Table of contents
About this book
Landscapes viewed from afar have a timeless quality that is soothing to the human spirit. Yet a tranquil wilderness scene is but a snapshot in the steady stream of surficial change. Wind, water and human activities reshape the landscape by means of gradual to catastrophic and usually irreversible events. Much of this change destroys past landscapes, but at some times and places, landscapes are buried in the rock record. This work is dedicated to the discovery of past landscapes and their life through the fossil record of soils. A long history of surficial changes extending back almost to the origin of our planet can be deciphered from the study of these buried soils, or paleosols. Some rudiments of this history, and our place in it, are outlined in a final section of this book. But first it is necessary to learn something of the language of soils, of what happens to them when buried in the rock record and which of the forces of nature can be confidently reconstructed from their remains. Much of this preliminary material is borrowed from soil science, but throughout emphasis is laid on features that provide most reliable evidence of landscapes during the distant geological past. This book has evolved primarily as a text for senior level university courses in paleopedology: the study of fossil soils.
Pedogenesis Sediment science soil soil science