Spatial analysis of soil depth variability and pedogenesis along toposequences in the Troodos Mountains, Cyprus Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/9593tx34j

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  • In unstable landscapes, modern pedological research explores the role of soils as products and indicators of geomorphologic change. Understanding the dynamics of hill slope pedogenesis is especially important in regions with limited, poor, or threatened soil resources. The island of Cyprus, situated in the eastern Mediterranean, is claimed by many authors to exhibit signs of severe soil degradation and is a prime site for comparative soil geomorphologic research. This study strove to 1) identify the controls of soil genesis and landscape stability within the Troodos Mountains of Cyprus using image and GIS analysis; 2) compare toposequence data to expected soil thickness trends from traditional models of xeric soil toposequences prevalent in current scientific literature; and 3) develop a predictive model for hillslope pedogenesis based on measured soil properties within the field area. Study soils within the Troodos are thin, weakly developed Lithic and Typic Xerorthents formed in colluvium derived from fractured, igneous bedrock. Soil thickness was measured at 368 sites in seven transects across three watersheds in the Troodos, using interpretations of field profiles and image analysis of digital soil-bedrock profiles in photographed road-cuts along forestry paths. Soil thickness was compared through GIS and statistical analysis to landscape attributes derived from a 25-m DEM and other map data. Results indicate that lithology is the only factor of several studied to have a significant relationship with the variability of soil-profile thickness in the Troodos, and that soil thickness does not vary in a predictable manner across toposequences. These results, combined with differences between measured soil data and values predicted by the landscape stability model SHALSTAB, suggest that soil genesis in the Troodos is best described only within the context of a weathering-limited geomorphological system. Short-term disruptive processes such as forest fires, land sliding, tree throw, and raindrop impact, combined with long-term processes such as tectonic uplift and stream incision, are the most likely driving forces behind the rapid erosion of hill slope sediments and the weak development of Troodos hill slope soils. These findings have important implications for DEM-based, predictive soil mapping in weathering-limited geomorphologic systems.
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