Loess stratigraphy of the Lower Mississippi Valley

Engineering Geology

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Loesses of the Lower Mississippi Valley (LMV) are world-famous. Sir Charles Lyell (1847), Hilgard (1860), Stafford (1869), Call (1891) and Mabry (1898), thought the LMV loess was a single water deposit although "double submergence" was noted by Call (1891) and Salisbury (1891). Shimek (1902) and Emerson (1918) recognized LMV loess as a wind deposit which came from the valley. Although wind-deposited loess gained wide acceptance, Russell (1944a) published his controversial theory of "loessification" which entailed weathering of backswamp deposits, downslope movement and recharge by carbonates to form loess. Wascher et al. (1947) identified three LMV loesses, mapped distributions and strongly supported eolian deposition. Leighton and Willman (1950), identified four loesses and supported eolian deposition as did Krinitzsky and Turnbull (1967) and Snowden and Priddy (1968), but Krinitzsky and Turnbull questioned the deepest loess. Daniels and Young (1968) and Touchet and Daniels (1970) studied the distribution of loesses in south-central Louisiana. West et al. (1980) and Rutledge et al. (1985) studied the source areas and wind directions which deposited the loesses on and adjoining Crowley's Ridge. B.J. Miller and co-workers (Miller et al., 1985, 1986, Miller and Alford, 1985) proposed that the Loveland Silt was Early Wisconsin rather than Illinoian age and advanced the name Sicily Island loess. They proposed the underlying loess was Illinoian and advanced the name Crowley's Ridge. We termed the loesses, from the surface downward, Peoria Loess, Roxana Silt, Loveland/Sicily Island loess, Crowley's Ridge Loess and Marianna loess. Researchers agree that the surfical Peoria Loess is Late Wisconsin and the Roxana Silt is Late to Middle Wisconsin, but little agreement exists on the age of the older loesses. Pye and Johnson (1988) proposed Early Wisconsin for the Loveland/Sicily Island. McKay and Follmer (1985) suggested this loess correlated with a loess under Illinoian till. Clark et al. (1989) agreed on Crowley's Ridge, but suggested the Loveland/Sicily Island loess on Sicily Island was older. Mirecki and Miller (1994) and Millard and Maat (1994) suggested an Illinoian age for the Loveland/Sicily Island loess. Miller and co-workers suggested, as did Pye and Johnson (1988), an Illinoian age for the Crowley's Ridge loess. McKay and Follmer (1985) suggested it correlated with a loess under "Kansan" till. Stratigraphy indicates the Marianna is the older of the five loesses. Researchers identified loess on both the east and west side of the LMV as well as on higher terraces within the valley. Many researchers assumed unaltered loesses were commonly yellowish brown, and silts or silt loams (West et al., 1980; Miller et al., 1986). The nonclay fraction of unweathered LMV loesses was dominated by quartz followed by carbonates, mainly dolomites, followed by feldspars, and micas. Clays were dominated by montmorillonite followed by micaceous minerals, kaolinite and vermiculite (Miller et al., 1986). Soils in the Crowley's Ridge loess are most developed, followed by the soils in the Loveland/Sicily Island which are more developed than the modern soils in the Peoria Loess. Soils in the Roxana and Marianna loesses are least developed and the Farmdale Soil of the Roxana is the weaker of the two (Miller et al., 1986). There is certainly overlapping range in the degree of soil development in the various loesses.

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Loess stratigraphy of the Lower Mississippi Valley
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Engineering Geology
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Engineering Geology
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