Soil morphology-water table cumulative duration relationships in Southern New England

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Although redoximorphic features (RMFs) are commonly used in place of direct observation to estimate the depth of the seasonal high water table (SHWT), little is known about the relationships between RMFs and the duration of the water table. The objective of this study was to gain a better understanding of how the expression of RMFs relates to the depth and duration of the water table in moderately well-drained soils of southern New England. The 20 soils studied included Dystrudepts, Quartzipsamments, and Psammaquents; of these, 17 met the criteria for Oxyaquic (8) or Aquic (9) subgroup classification. Water table levels were monitored for 18 mo from February to July of the following year to compare the depth and cumulative duration of the water table (cumulative saturation) to RMFs within soil horizons. Average seasonal high water table level (ASHWT) was correlated (p < 0.05) to the depth of the first loamy horizon with >2% RMFs (r2 = 0.65-0.72). Water table levels occurred within horizons with no RMFs for as much as 13% of the 18 mo study period. Mean cumulative saturation for soils with textures finer than loamy sand ranged from 3% for horizons with no RMFs to 36% for horizons with a depleted matrix. For horizons with textures of loamy sand and coarser, the mean cumulative saturation ranged from 8% for horizons with no RMFs to 45% for horizons with >2% depletions. (Percentage of cumulative saturation would have likely been less if we monitored for a full 2 yr, as the late summer and fall of the second year were not monitored.) Our results suggest that the abundance of RMFs increases as the percentage of time the water table is present within a horizon increases. Additionally, coarse-textured horizons are less expressive in regards to RMF abundance than are loamy-textured horizons with similar cumulative saturation. For land-use decisions, soil morphology should be used to provide both an estimate of the depths of a defined SHWT and cumulative saturation. © Soil Science Society of America.

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Soil Science Society of America Journal