Four soil chronosequences in the southern Great Basin were examined in order to study and quantify soil development during the Quaternary. Soils of all four areas are developed in gravelly alluvial fans in semiarid climates with 8 to 40 cm mean annual precipitation. Lithologies of alluvium are granite-gneiss at Silver Lake, granite and basalt at Cima Volcanic Field, limestone at Kyle Canyon, and siliceous volcanic rocks at Fortymile Wash. Ages of the soils are approximated from several radiometric and experimental techniques, and rates are assessed using a conservative mathematical approach. Average rates for Holocene soils at Silver Lake are about 10 times higher than for Pleistocene soils at Kyle Canyon and Fortymile Wash, based on limited age control. Holocene soils in all four areas appear to develop at similar rates, and Pleistocene soils at Kyle Canyon and Fortymile Wash may differ by only a factor of 2 to 4. Over time spans of several millennia, a preferred model for the age curves is not linear but may be exponential or parabolic, in which rates decrease with increasing age. These preliminary results imply that the geographical variation in rates within the southern Great Basin-Mojave region may be much less significant than temporal variation in rates of soil development. The reasons for temporal variation in rates and processes of soil development are complexly linked to climatic change and related changes in water and dust, erosional history, and internally driven chemical and physical processes. ?? 1991.
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Rates of soil development from four soil chronosequences in the southern Great Basin