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Recovery of severely compacted soils in the Mojave Desert, California, USA

Arid Land Research and Management

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DOI: 10.1080/153249802760284829

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Abstract

Often as a result of large-scale military maneuvers in the past, many soils in the Mojave Desert are highly vulnerable to soil compaction, particularly when wet. Previous studies indicate that natural recovery of severely compacted desert soils is extremely slow, and some researchers have suggested that subsurface compaction may not recover. Poorly sorted soils, particularly those with a loamy sand texture, are most vulnerable to soil compaction, and these soils are the most common in alluvial fans of the Mojave Desert. Recovery of compacted soil is expected to vary as a function of precipitation amounts, wetting-and-drying cycles, freeze-thaw cycles, and bioturbation, particularly root growth. Compaction recovery, as estimated using penetration depth and bulk density, was measured at 19 sites with 32 site-time combinations, including the former World War II Army sites of Camps Ibis, Granite, Iron Mountain, Clipper, and Essex. Although compaction at these sites was caused by a wide variety of forces, ranging from human trampling to tank traffic, the data do not allow segregation of differences in recovery rates for different compaction forces. The recovery rate appears to be logarithmic, with the highest rate of change occurring in the first few decades following abandonment. Some higher-elevation sites have completely recovered from soil compaction after 70 years. Using a linear model of recovery, the full recovery time ranges from 92 to 100 years; using a logarithmic model, which asymptotically approaches full recovery, the time required for 85% recovery ranges from 105-124 years.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Recovery of severely compacted soils in the Mojave Desert, California, USA
Series title:
Arid Land Research and Management
DOI:
10.1080/153249802760284829
Volume
16
Issue:
3
Year Published:
2002
Language:
English
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
First page:
291
Last page:
305
Number of Pages:
15