13 Sep 2023
 | 13 Sep 2023
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Mineral Dust and Pedogenesis in the Alpine Critical Zone

Jeffrey S. Munroe, Abigail A. Santis, Elsa J. Soderstrom, Michael J. Tappa, and Ann M. Bauer

Abstract. The influence of mineral dust deposition on soil formation in the mountain critical zone was evaluated at six sites in southwestern North America. Passive samplers collected dust for two years, and representative soil and rock were gathered in the vicinity of each dust sampler. All materials (dust, soil, and rock) were analysed to determine their mineralogy (with x-ray diffraction), geochemistry (with ICP-MS), and radiogenic isotope fingerprint (87Sr/86Sr and εNd). In addition, the grain size distribution of dust and soil samples was determined with laser scattering, and standard soil fertility analysis was conducted on the soil samples. Results reveal that minerals present in the dust, but absent in the local bedrock, are detectable in the soil. Similarly, the geochemistry and isotopic fingerprint of soil samples are more similar to dust than to local bedrock. End-member mixing models evaluating soil as a mixture of dust and rock suggest that the fine fractions of the sampled soils are dominated by dust deposition, with dust contents approaching 100 %. Dust content is somewhat higher in soils over bedrock types more resistant to weathering. These results emphasize the dominant control that mineral dust deposition can exert on pedogenesis on the mountain critical zone.

Jeffrey S. Munroe et al.

Status: open (until 25 Oct 2023)

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  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-1840', Patrice de Caritat, 04 Oct 2023 reply

Jeffrey S. Munroe et al.

Jeffrey S. Munroe et al.


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Short summary
This study investigated how the deposition of mineral dust delivered by the wind influences soil development in mountain environments. At six sites in the southwestern United States, modern dust was collected along with samples of soil and local bedrock. Analysis indicates that at all locations the properties of dust and soil are very similar, and are very different from underlying rock. This result indicates that soils are predominantly composed of dust delivered by the wind over time.