Classification of the Topsoil Fabrics in Arid Soils of Central Asia

  • Marina Lebedeva
  • Maria Gerasimova
  • Dmitry Golovanov


Existing data on the soil micromorphology of arid regions are sparse; in the present study, micromorphological features of a wide spectrum of arid soils in Russia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Mongolia are studied to develop diagnostic criteria for the new substantive-genetic soil classification systems. The diversity, functioning, and resilience of arid soils are determined by the properties of their topsoil, which reflects the recent environment, whereas subsoil reflects the paleoenvironment. Each of three upper horizons (light-humus, solonetzic eluvial, and xero-humus) as recognized in the new Russian system of soil classification (2004) and which can be found in arid soils presents similar micromorphological features in different soils. However, present study reveals that, in a sequence of soils, there are some specific micromorphological features indicating the increasing trends of aridity. In a soil sequence with increasing aridity, the diagnostic horizons and properties are combined in a regular way corresponding to the changes in environmental conditions and soil-forming processes; at the same time, the sequence is in good agreement with diagnostic elements of substantive Russian and WRB classification systems. Thus, the arid soils present two groups: one with a distinct light-humus horizon, and the other with a xero-humus horizon composed of crusty and subcrusty subhorizons. These groups correspond to two different types of pedogenesis. The micromorphological features of the topsoil make it possible to identify the mechanisms of some phenomena, for example, aeolian deposition, structural rearrangement, dynamics of secondary carbonates, and cryptosolonetzic manifestations.


Topsoil Former USSR Soil fabrics Micromorphology Central Asia 



This work was supported by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (project no. 12-04-00990). We are grateful to Prof. Yevgenia Pankova for providing samples from Mongolia and to Michael Lebedev for the preparation of soil thin sections.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marina Lebedeva
    • 1
  • Maria Gerasimova
    • 2
  • Dmitry Golovanov
    • 3
  1. 1.Laboratory of Soil Mineralogy and MicromorphologyV.V. Dokuchaev Soil Science InstituteMoscowRussia
  2. 2.Faculty of Geography MoscowLomonosov UniversityMoscowRussia
  3. 3.Department of Soil Geography and Landscape GeochemistryM.V. Lomonosov, Moscow State UniversityMoscowRussia

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