Sunday, February 15, 2009

During the day today I saw lots of moose tracks (above) and lots of mouse tracks (below) in the snow. The mouse tracks are from a tiny white footed deer mouse (Peromyscus leucopus). The foot print is about an inch long. The moose tracks were everywhere which is a good sign. I also saw otter tracks, snowshoe hare tracks, and what may have been a dog or coyote.

My primary goal of going up the Gale River Trail was to check out a spot on the trail, about half way up, where a landslide occurred in the early 50s. There’s an interesting story about the slide which I’ll relate in a minute but my interest in the slide goes back to the glaciers we’ve been talking about and the soil development and ecological succession that occurred after the glaciers ablated (or melted) as it applies to the White Mountains..

I've (finally!) finished Richard Goldthwait’s paper on Soil Development and Ecological Succession in a Deglaciated Area of Muir Inlet, Southeast Alaska, particularly the chapter on soil development and re-vegetation written by Fiorenzo C. Ugolini, an agronomist (soil scientist) at Ohio State University. After reading the paper I thought about practical ways to bring Ugolini's research from that project to life here in the White Mountains. I was actually thinking about a place that might replicate soil conditions in the White Mountains right after the Wisconsian glacier melted viz. soil development and the various evolutions of the soil and all the different types of vegetation that took over after the glacier melted and how long re-vegetation took.

Without going into a lot of detail regarding the Goldthwait paper (although if anyone wants to take a look at it I will be happy to email it to you) I was thinking that the land slide path (see photo below) that went across the Gale River Trail would be a good "laboratory" for a study researching soil development and evolution in the White Mountains. We can use the slide to look at the types of processes that occurred here when the glacier melted. This would work primarily from the point of view that the slide occurred in 1955 and there are pictures and data dating from 1968 and 1974, so 13 years and 20 years after the event and now, 50 (rounding them off) years since the event. Those are good intervales for studying the soil development and re-vegetation.

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