Beginning with European settlement in the 1700s, accelerated erosion from upland soils overwhelmed the transport capacities of low-gradient Piedmont watersheds. This resulted in the burial of Piedmont valley bottoms often by meters of alluvial sediment. The net effect of this historic accelerated erosion and sedimentation on soil organic carbon (SOC) is unclear. In this study, we estimate the carbon stocks and carbon retention mechanisms in a Piedmont floodplain that has undergone historic sedimentation. Using geospatial methods, we identify similar topographic regions in the Piedmont that are potential reservoirs of historic sedimentation as well as a first-order estimate of historic sedimentation in the Piedmont. We conclude that historic sedimentation in Piedmont valley bottoms was a poor sink for carbon over the past century. Soil systems in Piedmont floodplains are an exemplary example of the importance of human-driven soil change when studying decade-to-century pedology.
Wade, Anna, Daniel Richter, Alex Cherkinsky and Paul Heine (2019): Soil Carbon Stocks and Soil Moisture Regimes of Historic Sedimentation in the Southern Piedmont. Soil Science Society of America International Soils Meeting, San Diego, CA, 6-9 January 2019.
This Paper/Book acknowledges NSF CZO grant support.