Human-transported material soils of urbanizing estuarine landscapes

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Additions of human-transported materials (HTM) have significantly altered many coastal shorelines and wetlands. The hydrology and the ability of these anthropogenic soils to support ecologically important functions is poorly understood. In this study, we documented soil hydrologic patterns along disturbed estuarine shorelines and wetlands. Our goal was to determine if the soils had properties relative to the potential to support denitrification (i.e., labile C, saturation, and reducingconditions). Eleven anthropogenic sites, located in Rhode Island and 30 to >60 yr old, were studied. Auger transects were completed to characterize anthropogenic soils. Water table levels were monitored twice a month. Anthropogenic soils were described and sampled from pits at five representative locations. Soil organic C (SOC), permanganate-oxidizable C (POC), bulk density, and pH were measured. Deposits of HTM, comprised of dredge and fill materials, ranged in thickness from 26 to >285 cm, were predominantly sandy and often contained artifacts. In the thickest HTM deposits, water table levels rose as much as 2.5 m above the original buried soil surface, Redoximorphic features were identified within the range of water table activity in 16 of the 18 monitored anthropogenic soils, suggesting reducing conditions. Soil organic C ranged from 1,6 to 88,9 g kg , was highest in surface horizons, and had an irregular distribution with depth. Labile C, estimated from POC measurements, followed the SOC distribution. Evidence of labile C, saturation, and reducing conditions in the majority of these soils suggest that most of the disturbed estuarine soils we studied have the capacity for denitrification. © Soil Science Society of America.

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Soil Science Society of America Journal