Saturday, January 10, 2009

Richard Goldthwait's hard to find paper on Soil Development and Ecological Succession in a Deglaciated Area of Muir Inlet

I'm tickled that I finally found a copy of this hard-to-find paper by Richard Golthwait on soil development and ecological succession in a post glacial area of Alaska. Lynn Lay at the Goldthwait Library at the Byrd Polar Research Center at Ohio State University was kind enough to scan the library's last copy and email it to me. I just got it this morning. It's 170 pages long and astonishing in it's depth. It has 7 sections under the following headings: glacial history, climate, soils, plants, insects, birds and mammals. It's really cool. Each of the subject areas are broken down into years of succession from 1-5 years after the glacier(s) ablated all the way up to 125 years after the glacier melted. I haven't had time to read much of it but did find some things we talked about in the section in the blog about glaciers and the post-glacial period that are close to being accurate. Richard's team, for instance, found that the coniferous, boreal forest began to come back in to the deglaciated areas between 15 and 20 years after the glacier ablated. The mid-succession forest for one deglaciated area was 125-130 years. That's probably indicative of the chronology for the forest succession in the White Mountains following the retreat of the Wisconsinan glacier. I'll read through it more studiously. It's the soils I'm curious about and how soil development in the White Mountains impacted the types of plants and the dynamics of plant succession after the glacier retreated. There is a single soil profile in Goldthwait's paper for the Casement Glacier in Muir Inlet that describes the ablation till area at the glacier terminus as a "coarse sand and gritty material 0-6 cms deep consisting of angular fragments; some of the fines (silt and clay) occur in the lower part of the soil directly on the ice. The material is very moist. No megascopic plants are present." It sounds familiar, like some areas above treeline on the Presidentials and Franconia ridges. If any one would like a copy of the paper I'll be glad to email it or hard mail it.

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