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Scientists map soils on an extinct American volcano
Date:10/20/2008

MADISON, WI, October 20, 2008 | Union County New Mexico is a landscape of striking diversity. Out of expansive rangelands rise sporadic yet majestic cinder cone volcanoes and mesas preserved by basalt, part of the Raton-Clayton Volcanic Field. Capulin volcano, formed approximately 62,000 years ago, is the youngest volcano in the field. The cone rises 396 m from the plain, reaching an altitude of 2,495 m above sea level. The base of the volcano is 6.4 km in circumference, and the crater is 126 m deep and 442 m across. Four different flows of lava can be observed across the monument, indicative of different eruptive events. Conditions across the park are highly dynamic with respect to vegetation distribution, slope, and depth to bedrock, but the available soils data was highly generalized and lacked sufficient specificity to be of much use in park management of natural resources.

In 2006, Dr. David C. Weindorf, Assistant Professor of Soil Classification and Land Use at the LSU AgCenter in Baton Rouge, LA, visited the volcano with a group of undergraduate soil science students. As a result of the visit, the National Parks Service commissioned a more detailed study of soils in the park. The results are published in the Fall 2008 issue of Soil Survey Horizons ("High resolution soil survey of Capulin Volcano National Monument, New Mexico" by D. Weindorf, B. Rinard, Y. Zhu, S. Johnson, B. Haggard, J. McPherson, M. Dia, C. Spinks, and A. McWhirt, Soil Surv. Horiz. 49:55-62

The unprecedented access for sampling allowed for the collection of more than 140 soil samples, the description of five soil profiles (vertical cross sections of soil extending into the subsoil). At each site, global positioning system (GPS) coordinates were recorded so the exact location of the sample could be mapped. Slope and site characteristics such as vegetative cover were also noted at each point.

In the lab, soil color, texture, organic matter, pH, a
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Contact: Sara Uttech
suttech@soils.org
608-268-4948
Soil Science Society of America
Source:Eurekalert

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