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Ancient soils contain vital mineralogical, geochemical, textural, and palaeontological information about the continental environments in which they formed. Advances in isotope geochemistry and sequence-stratigraphic models allow evermore detailed reconstructions of environmental change from palaeosols, and new insights into such diverse topics as atmospheric chemistry, global change, palaeoecology, geobiology and mass extinction. Soils of the Past educates readers about the field of palaeopedology and how it remains a key area of investigation for geologists and environmental scientists seeking to learn about, and reconstruct, the condition and evolution of palaeoenvironments.
Presented in three sections – Soils and Palaeosols; Factors in Soil Formation; and Fossil Record of Soils – Soils of the Past: An Introduction to Paleopedology describes the main types of ancient soil, procedures for identifying and studying them, their classification and, most significantly, a wide array of examples of how palaeosols have been used for palaeoenvironmental reconstruction. The book is an excellent reflection of the current state of knowledge and can be widely adopted over many disciplines.
- All chapters have been revised and updated to reflect advances in soil science in the last two decades
- New tables display a wealth of new data added since the 2nd edition published in 2001
- New figures have been added and line art has been redrawn to improve clarity and promote understanding
- References have been updated throughout
Soils of the Past, 3rd edition is written for advanced undergraduates studying paleopedology as part of a degree in geology, environmental science, or physical geography, and for interested professional earth scientists.
Preface to the third edition vii
Preface to the second edition ix
Preface to the first edition xi
Part I: Soils and paleosols
1 Paleopedology 3
2 Soils on and under the landscape 9
3 Features of fossil soils 17
4 Soil-forming processes 49
5 Soil classification 81
6 Mapping and naming paleosols 97
Part II: Factors in soil formation
7 Alteration of paleosols after burial 109
8 Models of soil formation 129
9 Climate 133
10 Organisms 161
11 Topographic relief as a factor 201
12 Parent material as a factor 215
Part III: Fossil record of soils
13 Time as a factor 231
14 A long-term natural experiment in pedogenesis 259
15 Soils of other worlds 263
16 Earth’s earliest landscapes 287
17 Early life on land 311
18 Large plants and animals on land 337
19 Afforestation of the land 359
20 Grasses in dry continental interiors 387
21 Human impact on landscapes 409
Gregory J. Retallack, PhD, is a Professor in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Oregon, USA.
Reviews of the second edition:
"With its wide sweep of ideas, should be read by all interested in soils and processes that shape them."
– Times Higher Education Supplement
"This is certainly a book for the library shelves of any Earth science or geography department, and certainly a thought-provoking read for any student of Earth history or environmental change."
– John Conway, The Holocene, April 2002