• newswise-fullscreen How are soil scientists studying soils under water?

    Credit: Credit: Barret Wessel.

    It may seem impossible to sample soils below two meters of water, but the vibracore makes it simple. Its use reveals submerged and buried landscapes with preserved soil changes. Iron oxides and depletions are seen at the end of this sample before it is capped for transport.

Newswise — August 15, 2019 – Before the late 90s, soil that was under water was commonly considered to be nothing more than sediment. However, as soil scientists began to study this emerging area further, they realized that underwater soils share many characteristics with soils on land. By 1998, a subaqueous soil survey had begun and subaqueous soils were officially a field of study.

The Soil Science Society of America’s (SSSA) August 15th Soils Matter blog looks at the emerging field of underwater soils.

“Gathering soil samples for subaqueous soil research presents more challenges than their more dry counterparts,” says blogger Barret Wessel. “We have been able to adapt a tool usually used in concrete construction to assist with this.”

Getting samples of soils is important for soil scientists to be able to study soil properties. “These tests help us determine what is going on in the soil and ways to manage the area,” says Wessel. Some tests are done on subaqueous soils that are not done on upload soils. “We estimate fluidity of subaqueous soils by squeezing handfuls and rating how easily they flow through your fingers. Some subaqueous soil samples resemble a handful of dark-colored mayonnaise. We might even smell soil samples! Our noses can help us to determine if hydrogen sulfide or petroleum odors are present. This can tell us about how the sulfur cycle is operating in these soils, or if they have been contaminated by chemical spills.”

To learn more about subaqueous soils, read the entire post here: https://soilsmatter.wordpress.com/2019/08/15/how-are-soil-scientists-studying-soils-under-water

Follow SSSA on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SSSA.soils, Twitter at SSSA_Soils. SSSA has soils information on www.soils.org/discover-soils, for teachers at www.soils4teachers.org, and for students through 12th grade, www.soils4kids.org.

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