Blackwell Publishing Journal Backfiles 1879-2005
Agriculture, Forestry, Horticulture, Fishery, Domestic Science, Nutrition
The marshlands of western France provide the opportunity to relate the magnetic properties of a recent sedimentary clay soil to pedogenesis, including the impact of agriculture and drainage on magnetic mineralogy. We studied a plot of drained land that had been ploughed up to 1998 and under grass since. A new thermomagnetic method was used to identify and to quantify roughly the magnetic minerals, which represent less than 1 g kg−1. The most abundant Fe oxides are haematite (45%) and goethite (45%). However, trace amounts of the ferrimagnetic minerals maghemite (4%), magnetite (3%) and, to a lesser extent, iron sulphides (1%) provide most of the magnetic signal. This signal allowed us to identify magnetic horizons that relate to the soil horizons. The topsoil is characterized by a strong magnetic enhancement (4-fold), and the thickness of this layer increases close to the drains. Relative contents of ferrimagnetic phase also increase laterally with decreasing distance to the drains. Magnetic enhancement coincides with the most aerated and developed layer, in which water circulation, root colonization and hence soil fertility are greater. Ferromagnetic minerals sensu lato, especially maghemite and magnetite, can be considered as mineralogical tracers partly and indirectly reflecting soil fertility of these clay-rich marshland soils.
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