Encyclopedia of Natural Hazards

2013 Edition
| Editors: Peter T. Bobrowsky

Loess

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-4399-4_222

Synonyms

Bluff formation (Mississippi Valley region); Lehm (Alsace, France); Löss (Germany)

Definition

Loess is a homogeneous, typically nonstratified, porous, friable, slightly coherent, often calcareous, fine-grained, silty, pale yellow or buff, windblown (aeolian) sediment.

Loess consists mainly of quartz particles predominantly of silt with subordinate grain sizes ranging from clay to fine sand (Muhs and Bettis, 2003; Pye, 1995; Smalley, 1975). It generally occurs as a widespread blanket deposit that covers areas of hundreds of square kilometers and tens of meters thick. Loess covers areas extending from north-central Europe to eastern China as well as the Mississippi Valley and Pacific Northwest of the USA; and the Pampas in South America (Muhs and Bettis, 2003). Loess is generally buff to light yellow or yellowish brown, often contains shells, bones, and teeth of mammals, and is traversed by networks of small narrow vertical tubes (frequently lined with calcium-carbonate...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Bibliography

  1. Derbyshire, E., 2001. Geological hazards in loess terrain, with particular reference to the loess regions of China. Earth–Science Reviews, 54, 231–260.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Muhs, D. R., and Bettis, E. A. III, 2003. Quaternary loess-paleosol sequences as examples of climate-driven sedimentary extremes. In Chan, M. A., and Archer, A. W. (eds.), Extreme Depositional Environments: Mega End Members in Geologic Time. Boulder, CO: Geological Society of America Special Paper 370, pp. 53–74.Google Scholar
  3. Pye, K., 1995. The nature, origin and accumulation of loess. Quaternary Science Reviews, 14, 653–657.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Smalley, I. J. (ed.), 1975. Loess: Lithology and Genesis. Stroudsburg: Dowden, Hutchinson and Ross, Benchmark Papers in Geology 26.Google Scholar
  5. Smalley, I. J., and Derbyshire, E., 1991. Large loess landslides in active tectonic regions. In Jones, M., and Cosgrove, J. (eds.), Neotectonics and Resources. London: Belhaven Press, pp. 202–219.Google Scholar
  6. Smalley, I. J., Jefferson, I. F., Dijkstra, T. A., and Derbyshire, E., 2001. Some major events in the development of the scientific study of loess. Earth–Science Reviews, 54, 5–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeologyUniversity of PécsPécsHungary