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Thomas Caspari:

The soils of Bhutan: Parent materials, soil forming processes, and new insights into the palaeoclimate of the Eastern Himalayas

2007. 128 pages, 40 figures, 22 tables, 17x24cm, 360 g
Language: English

(Relief Boden Palaeoklima, Band 22)

ISBN 978-3-443-09022-7, paperback, price: 44.00 €

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Contents

Synopsis top ↑

This volume presents a study of the soils of the tiny Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan. Three aspects make Bhutan an interesting place to study soils: a high density of different physiographic zones, secondly a high percentage of primeval forests, lowering erosion levels and preserving a large percentage of the original land surface and thirdly, the lack of previous studies of climate history, soils and soil-forming processes in Bhutan.

The study investigates the geochemistry of Butanese soils from different geological backgrounds, two soil forming processes, particular to Central Bhutan and hitherto largely unstudied and uses the (geochemical) data collected to reconstruct paleoclimate and landscape history.

The volume features a an appendix with color soil profiles and photos.

Table of Contents top ↑

1. Introduction
1.1 Characterisation of the study area 1
1.1.1 Geographic location of Bhutan 1
1.1.2 Physiographic zonation and climate 2
1.1.3 Natural vegetation 2
1.1.4 Geology 5
1.2 Previous soils information 7
1.2.1 Indigenous knowledge 7
1.2.2 Soil survey and classification 8
1.3 Bhutanese-German collaboration 9
1.4 Basic conditions of soil scientific work in Bhutan 9
1.4.1 Technical aspects 9
1.4.2 Cultural and religious aspects 10
2. State of the art and objectives
2.1 REE-based geochemical investigation of soils 11
2.2 Selected aspects of soil formation 12
2.2.1 Redistribution of local sediments and its influence on
soil formation 12
2.2.2 Andic features in non-volcanic soils 13
2.3 Soils as indicators for landscape history and palaeoclimate 14
3. Materials and Methods
3.1 Sampling locations 17
3.2 Soil sampling techniques and field parameters 20
3.3 Soil analytical methods 20
3.3.1 Soil physical characteristics 20
3.3.2 Column experiments 21
3.3.3 Soil chemical characteristics 22
3.3.4 Neutron Activation Analysis 23
3.4 Data analysis and statistics 23
3.4.1 Data handling 23
3.4.2 Explorative data analyses 23
3.4.3 Weathering indices 24
4. Comparative geochemical investigation of Bhutanese soils
4.1 Samples and site characteristics 25
4.2 Major elements 28
4.3 Indications for the state of weathering 31
4.4 Rare earth elements 35
4.5 Passive enrichment of REE during weathering 38
4.6 Active enrichment of REE by pedogenic processes 42
4.7 Control of parent material 43
5. In-depth view of particular soil forming processes
5.1 Redistribution of local sediments and its influence on soil
formation in Phobjikha
Valley, Central Bhutan 45
5.1.1 Natural setting of the study area 45
5.1.2 Valley morphology and description of selected profiles 46
5.1.3 Analytical results 49
5.1.3.1 Soil physical characteristics 49
5.1.3.2 Soil chemical characteristics 54
5.1.3.3 Statistics 56
5.1.4 Soil classification 57
5.1.5 Environmental framework for sediment redistribution 58
5.1.6 Macro-morphological indications for sediment redistribution 59
5.1.7 Analytical and statistical indications 59
5.2 Andic features in non-volcanic soils in Bhutan 61
5.2.1 Non-volcanic Andosol samples 61
5.2.2 Basic soil chemical and physical properties 62
5.2.3 Pedogenic oxides and mineralogy 63
5.2.4 Particle size distribution and the formation of pseudosand 65
5.2.5 Longevity of the organic matter 67
5.2.6 Column experiments 67
5.2.7 Implications for soil classification 68

6. Indicative value of Bhutanese soils for landscape history and
palaeoclimate
6.1 Indications from Phobjikha Valley, western Central Bhutan 70
6.2 Indications from Bumthang Valley, eastern Central Bhutan 72
6.2.1 Site description 72
6.2.2 Field observations and selected profiles 72
6.2.3 Basic laboratory analyses 75
6.2.4 Radiocarbon dating 77
6.2.5 Pedogenic indicators of relative dating 78
7. Conclusions
7.1 Comparative geochemical investigation of Bhutanese soils 82
7.2 Soil forming processes 82
7.2.1 Redistribution of local sediments and its influence on
soil formation 82
7.2.2 Andic features in non-volcanic Andosols 83
7.3 Soils as indicators for landscape history and palaeoclimate 83
7.3.1 Indications from Phobjikha-Valley, Wangdue-Phodrang 83
7.3.2 Indications from the Chamkhar Chhu Valley near Jakar, Bumthang 83

8. Summary 85

9. References 87

Appendix A: Analytical data tables 96
Appendix B: Coloured figures and photos 118
Appendix C: Profile pictures 125