Vertisols properties and classification in relation to parent material differentiation near Strzelin (SW Poland)

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Abstract

Vertisols are characterized by high content of clay fraction that affects their specific morphological and physical features. The shrink-swell phenomena of clayey materials under specific moisture regime cause formation of cracks, wedge-shaped structural aggregates and slickensides on aggregate surfaces. It was formerly believed that these soils can be found only in tropical/subtropical zones, thus Vertisols have not been expected to form under temperate climate of Central Europe. As a result, Vertisols are insufficiently recognized and documented on soil maps in Poland, including the Lower Silesia region. The aim of this study was to examine soils developed on clayey parent materials near Strzelin, focusing on their morphology, properties and classification issues. There was confirmed that soils developed from Neogene clays have vertic and mollic horizon, accompanied by stagnic or gleyic properties. However, not all soils fulfil the criteria for Vertisols due to the presence of surface or subsurface coarser-textured (sandyor silty-textured) layers. Native differentiation of parent material and geomorphological processes were found the main factors, which control the spatial mosaic of Vertisols and black earths (Chernozems or Phaeozems).

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