Mollic Epipedon

  • James G. Bockheim


The mollic epipedon is a key diagnostic epipedon in Soil Taxonomy (Soil Survey Staff 2010) and is recognized in many other soil classification schemes as black soil, Chernozems, chestnut soils, Brunizems, Phaeozems, and Kastanozems. The origin of the mollic epipedon is only partially understood; however, the relation between Mollisols and grassland or steppe has been recognized for more than a century (Shantz 1923). Soils containing a mollic epipedon are among the world’s most productive soils (Liu et al. 2012). The thickness and high soil organic carbon (SOC) contents of the mollic epipedon mean that these soils have sequestered large amounts of C over long periods of time. In agricultural areas, the SOC content has decreased somewhere between 30 and 50 % from soil erosion and increased decomposition and cropping (Mann 1985; Mikhailova et al. 2000; Liu et al. 2010; Fenton 2012; David et al. 2009). As a result some Mollisols no longer have a mollic epipedon (Veenstra and Burras 2002; Fenton 2012).


Soil Organic Carbon Soil Organic Carbon Content Mean Annual Precipitation Soil Series Soil Survey Staff 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Alfred Hartemink contributed Fig. 5.1 and drafted Fig. 5.2.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • James G. Bockheim
    • 1
  1. 1.Soil Science DepartmentUniversity of WisconsinMadisonUSA

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