Estimates of late Holocene soil production and erosion in the Snowy Mountains, Australia

N. Stromsoe, S.K. Marx, Nik Callow, H.A. Mcgowan, H. Heijnis

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    Abstract

    © 2016 Elsevier B.V.Soil production in actively uplifting or high precipitation alpine landscapes is potentially rapid. However, these same landscapes are also susceptible to erosion and can be sensitive to changes in climate and anthropogenic activity which can upset the balance between soil production and erosion. The Snowy Mountains, southeastern Australia, are a tectonically stable, low relief, moderate precipitation mountain environment. The alpine area is extensively blanketed by soil that has been subjected to more intensive episodes of erosion during past periods of anthropogenic disturbance and under cold climate conditions of the late Quaternary. In this study, rates of soil development and hillslope erosion were investigated using radiocarbon dating, fallout radionuclides and sediment cores collected from lakes and reservoirs. Estimated Holocene soil development rates were 20-220 t/km2/y. Erosion rates determined from the radionuclides 137Cs and 210Pb were equivocal, due to the inherent spatial variability of radionuclide inventories relative to apparent erosion rates. Estimated average erosion rates over the past 100 years, determined from 210Pbex inventories, were 60 t/km2/y (95% CI: 10, 90). Inventories of 137Cs observed at the same site implied that more recent erosion rates (over the past 60 years) was below the detection limits of the sampling method applied here (i.e.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)68-82
    JournalCatena
    Volume145
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2016

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