Pro-glacial soil variability and geomorphic activity - the case of three Swiss valleys

A.J.A.M. Temme, K. de Lange

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23 Citations (Scopus)


Soils in pro-glacial areas are often approached from a chronosequence viewpoint. In the chronosequence approach, the objective is to derive rates of soil formation from differences in properties between soils of different age. For this reason, in chronosequence studies, soils are sampled in locations that are assumed geomorphically stable and that have different age. As a result, these studies do not necessarily yield a complete view of soil variability in pro-glacial areas, and may miss important relations between geomorphology and soil development. In this contribution, we present new soil observations from three closely related pro-glacial areas in Switzerland. These observations were intended to get closer to a complete view of soil variability, and to assess impacts from factors other than time on soil development. About 40 soils were visited in each pro-glacial valley in a combined design-convenience sampling scheme and described in the field. Linear modelling was used to assess effects of time and topographic factors on soil properties. The time since glacial retreat turned out to rarely explain more than half of the variation in soil properties, and a linear model combining effects of time and topographic variables explained typically about half of the variation in each pro-glacial valley. Models differed and were not transferable between valleys. Apparently, time and the present-day shape of the landscape combined are insufficient information to accurately predict soil properties. Field evidence points to the importance of the geomorphic history and regime of the valleys as a reason for this. Copyright (C) 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1492-1499
JournalEarth Surface Processes and Landforms
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • proglacial area morteratsch
  • melting glaciers
  • organic-matter
  • damma glacier
  • front range
  • switzerland
  • forefield
  • evolution
  • alps
  • landscape


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