Articles | Volume 5, issue 1
Solid Earth, 5, 485–498, 2014

Special issue: Soil processes in cold-climate environments

Solid Earth, 5, 485–498, 2014

Research article 11 Jun 2014

Research article | 11 Jun 2014

Variations of soil profile characteristics due to varying time spans since ice retreat in the inner Nordfjord, western Norway

A. Navas1, K. Laute2, A. A. Beylich2, and L. Gaspar3 A. Navas et al.
  • 1Estación Experimental de Aula Dei (EEAD-CSIC), Department of Soil and Water, Avda. Montañana 1005, 50059 Zaragoza, Spain
  • 2Geological Survey of Norway (NGU), Geo-Environment Division, 7491 Trondheim, Norway
  • 3School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Plymouth University, Plymouth, Devon, PL4 8AA, UK

Abstract. In the Erdalen and Bødalen drainage basins located in the inner Nordfjord in western Norway the soils were formed after deglaciation. The climate in the uppermost valley areas is sub-arctic oceanic, and the lithology consists of Precambrian granitic orthogneisses on which Leptosols and Regosols are the most common soils. The Little Ice Age glacier advance affected parts of the valleys with the maximum glacier extent around AD 1750. In this study five sites on moraine and colluvium materials were selected to examine main soil properties, grain size distribution, soil organic carbon and pH to assess if soil profile characteristics and patterns of fallout radionuclides (FRNs) and environmental radionuclides (ERNs) are affected by different stages of ice retreat. The Leptosols on the moraines are shallow, poorly developed and vegetated with moss and small birches. The two selected profiles show different radionuclide activities and grain size distribution. The sampled soils on the colluviums outside the LIA glacier limit became ice-free during the Preboral. The Regosols present better-developed profiles, thicker organic horizons and are fully covered by grasses. Activity of 137Cs and 210Pbex concentrate at the topsoil and decrease sharply with depth. The grain size distribution of these soils also reflects the difference in geomorphic processes that have affected the colluvium sites. Significantly lower mass activities of FRNs were found in soils on the moraines than on colluviums. Variations of ERN activities in the valleys were related to characteristics of soil mineralogical composition. These results indicate differences in soil development that are consistent with the age of ice retreat. In addition, the pattern distribution of 137Cs and 210Pbex activities differs in the soils related to the LIA glacier limits in the drainage basins.