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Serpentine Geoecology of Western North AmericaGeology, Soils, and Vegetation$
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Earl B. Alexander, Roger G. Coleman, Todd Keeler-Wolfe, and Susan P. Harrison

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195165081

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780195165081.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 14 June 2021

Serpentine Soil Distributions and Environmental Influences

Serpentine Soil Distributions and Environmental Influences

6 Serpentine Soil Distributions and Environmental Influences
Serpentine Geoecology of Western North America

Earl B. Alexander

Roger G. Coleman

Todd Keeler-Wolfe

Susan P. Harrison

Oxford University Press

Serpentine soils occur in all but one of the twelve orders (Alexander 2004b), which is the highest level in Soil Taxonomy (Soil Survey Staff 1999), the primary system of soil classification utilized in this book (appendix C). They occur in practically every environment from cold arctic to hot tropical and from arid to perhumid (always wet). Thus the variety of serpentine soils is very great even though they occupy only a small fraction of the earth. Serpentine soils have been found in all states and provinces that are adjacent to the Pacific Ocean from Baja California to Alaska. They are most concentrated in the California Region, where they have been mapped in 34 counties in California and in 5 counties in southwestern Oregon. Serpentine lateritic (or “nickel laterite”) soils, which have not been mapped separately from other soils, are economically significant in California and southwest Oregon, even though they are not widely distributed in western North America. A representative serpentine soil is shown in figure 6-1. Serpentine soils, or soils in magnesic (serpentine) families, are represented in 11 of the 12 soil orders. Spodosols and Histosols in magnesic families occur only where there is a thin cover of nonserpentine materials over the serpentine materials, and there are no serpentine Andisols. Andisols contain amorphous and poorly ordered aluminum-silicate minerals, which are responsible for andic soil properties of these soils. Serpentine soil parent materials do not contain enough aluminum for the development of andic soil properties that are definitive of Andisols. Alfisols are soils with argillic (or natric) horizons having more than 35% exchangeable bases (Ca2+, Mg2+, Na+, and K+) on the cation exchange complex. Al3+ and H+ are the common nonbasic (acidic) cations on the exchange complex. The Mg2+ that serpentine soil parent materials release upon weathering keeps the basic cation status of soils high, unless they are leached intensively. Some of the soil horizon sequences are A-Bt, A-Btn, and A-Bt-Btk in Alfisols. Soils of Dubakella Series and other moderately deep Mollic Haploxeralfs with a mesic soil temperature regime are the most extensively mapped serpentine Alfisols in California and southwestern Oregon. Figure 6-1 is representative of the Mollic Haploxeralfs.

Keywords:   absolane, chromite, feldspar, gabbro, hematite, landslide, maghemite, talc, weathering

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