This paper expands the dynamic denudation framework of landscape evolution by providing new process insights and details on how soil and its signature morphological feature, the biomantle, form and function in the environment. We examine soils and their biomantles from disparate parts of the world, from the tropics through midlatitudes and hyperarid through perhumid, a range that exhibits varying environments for, and of, life. We then explicate the process pathways that cause soils to thicken and thin, and to even disappear, then reform. We do this by examining thickness relationships, where soil thickness stand biomantle thickness bt are functions of upbuilding u and deepening d minus removal r processes, hence st/bt=f(u+d-r). Upbuilding has two subsets, u1, which includes all exogenous (allochthonous-outside) mineral and/or organic inputs to the soil system, and u2, which includes all endogenous (autochthonous-in situ) processes and productions, including weathering. Exogenous u1 inputs include eolian and slopewash inputs (sedimentations) of mineral and organic materials, mass wasting accumulations and the like. Endogenous u2 processes and productions include the sum of in situ bioturbations, biosynthetic productions, organic accumulations, biovoid productions, weathering and volume increases caused by their sum. Endogenous upbuildings, which dominantly occur in the biomantle, are basically biodynamic bd processes and productions, hence u2=bd. Therefore, if exogenous upbuildings u1 are minimal or zero, then biomantle thickness bt is expressed by bt=f(u2-r) or bt=f(bd-r). Drawing on these relationships, we employ a graphic-conceptual device called process vector analysis in a digital animation (see supplementary materials or cf. https://netfiles.uiuc.edu/jdomier/www/temp/ biomantle.html) that illustrates the main pathways that form both Earth's soil and its unique epidermis, the biomantle. We then discuss the main elements of the animation using still frames that represent thickness turning points. We end by encouraging researchers, instructors and students to view Earth's landforms and soils as integrated dynamic entities that are constantly coevolving elements of a global subaerial-subaqueous continuum. ?? 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Additional publication details
Animating the biodynamics of soil thickness using process vector analysis: A dynamic denudation approach to soil formation