Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


New findings help predict soil production and erosion


Two Dartmouth researchers have quantified the chemical weathering rates of bedrock at three sites around the world. By concentrating their testing in localized areas and using X-ray fluorescence to measure elements and oxides, they have found that variations in the chemistry of weathered bedrock (clay) do not always follow the patterns of the underlying bedrock.

This study by Earth sciences graduate student Benjamin Burke and Assistant Professor Arjun Heimsath will be presented at The Geological Society of America’s annual meeting, November 2-5 in Seattle, WA. Their research helps predict future soil production and erosion in similar landscapes, and may someday predict areas of mineral-rich soil for agricultural purposes.

Burke and Heimsath are studying the rate of soil production, erosion and mineral weathering on landscapes built on granite. Wind and water physically wear down landscapes, while chemical weathering occurs more slowly as water works into the earth to break down rock into clay and other minerals.

"Understanding and quantifying how weathering rates vary across a very localized area allows us to test previously existing assumptions about how land is shifting," says Burke. "We are also examining the assumption that point measurements can be used to infer area wide averages when it comes to soil and rock sampling."

Burke and Heimsath studied three sites: two in southeastern Australia and one in coastal northern California. They chose landscapes with similar properties that have been studied by geologists in the past, building on previous research. At each site, they examined a two-square meter pit, which was about a half meter deep, and took 26 samples from each pit.

They found that in two out of three sites, there was little variability throughout the samples. In the third area, one of the Australian sites, the data revealed great variation across the sample. These results show that chemical and physical weathering processes can work irregularly across very small areas, the researchers say.

"This study definitely supports work by previous researchers indicating that chemical weathering itself contributes to a changing landscape," says Heimsath. "We’ve added the chemical analysis to quantify what we already suspected."

This study was funded by the Geological Society of America and the National Science Foundation.

Susan Knapp | Dartmouth College
Further information:

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Wandering greenhouse gas
16.03.2018 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

nachricht Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System
14.03.2018 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

Im Focus: Radar for navigation support from autonomous flying drones

At the ILA Berlin, hall 4, booth 202, Fraunhofer FHR will present two radar sensors for navigation support of drones. The sensors are valuable components in the implementation of autonomous flying drones: they function as obstacle detectors to prevent collisions. Radar sensors also operate reliably in restricted visibility, e.g. in foggy or dusty conditions. Due to their ability to measure distances with high precision, the radar sensors can also be used as altimeters when other sources of information such as barometers or GPS are not available or cannot operate optimally.

Drones play an increasingly important role in the area of logistics and services. Well-known logistic companies place great hope in these compact, aerial...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

International Virtual Reality Conference “IEEE VR 2018” comes to Reutlingen, Germany

08.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Wandering greenhouse gas

16.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

'Frequency combs' ID chemicals within the mid-infrared spectral region

16.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Biologists unravel another mystery of what makes DNA go 'loopy'

16.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>