Aeolian sands and soils of a Wetland Biosphere Reserve: The Tablas de Daimiel


Three soil profiles were characterized from a sandy area situated in a transitional zone in the “Tablas de Daimiel” UNESCO wetland biosphere reserve (TDNP) in the Mancha Plain (Central Spain). The original thickness of the soil layer in this area was as much as 100 cm, but the combined effect of unbalanced cultivation (including irrigation) and an increasingly dry climate has partially eroded their natural properties, almost leading to a desertification process. The main properties of these soils, classified as Xeropsamments (Soil Survey Staff 2006) or Arenosols (IUSS Working Group WRB 2006), are the dominance of sand in the soil matrix, its basic character, and low soil organic matter and carbonate contents. Scanning electron microscopy of the quartz grain surfaces indicated that the superficial textureswere commonly well preserved and characteristic of specific conditions of aeolian formation. Exoscopy revealed a mixture of sub-angular and rounded quartz morphotypes withwell-preserved mechanical impacts on the grain surfaces. These percussion effects are characteristic of aeolian processes and confirmed that mechanical actions were more significant than chemical processes in their pedogenesis.This micromorphological study of the textural sands in the transitional zone of the TDNP revealed that the (red) sands were transported to this area by wind, probably from material of degraded red soils, and deposited on soil horizons previously developed over marls and limestones. The relict character of these materials and specially their susceptibility to degradation should be considered as a priority argument to preserve this area and introduce management measurements to avoid soil erosion.


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