Submerged pedology: the soils of minor islands in the Venice lagoon
Keywords:soil processes, Entisols, Inceptisols, soil properties
Minor islands of the Venice lagoon are part of a delicate ecosystem, with equilibrium that depends on multiple factors deriving from both the aqueous and the terrestrial compartment, and represent useful indicators of the lagoon ecosystem status. Over centuries, some islands emerged, some others disappeared, others are being submerged in consequence of sea level rise, or are dismantled by marine erosion. Ecological survey and soil sampling evidenced rather homogeneous environment and soil characters, likely due to the same genesis from HTM during centuries, and to environmental conditions such as moisture and brackish groundwater. Four of the examined soils are Inceptisols, while the others present limited horizon differentiation, and are Entisols. All the profiles reflect udic or aquic conditions, and some of them are submerged for most time. Most soils are moderately alkaline (7.9 <pH< 8.4), with excessive carbonate (> 250 g/kg); organic carbon content at surface is within the normal range (8 <OC g/kg< 12), while at depth it is low (< 8 g/kg). The soils of shallow sandbanks differ from those of the islands having neutral pH (6.6 <pH< 7.3), rather high OC (> 17 g/kg) and carbonates. Moreover, the textural class is generally silty-loam with increasing clay content with depth. Currently, the soils examined present hydromorphic pedofeatures, which are the result of the most important pedogenic process in the lagoon. Alternating reduction/oxidation processes would increase as a consequence of sea level rise, determining reducing conditions at bottom, and conversely enhancing salt concentration uppermost, with negative consequences for both pedogenic evolution and vegetation survival.
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