Soil micromorphogenesis and Early Holocene paleoclimate at the desert margin of Southern Arabia .


The Ramlat as-Sab’atayn desert margin near Ma’rib, Yemen, displays well-preserved Early Holocene paleosols that are documented by micromorphological and pedological data. The buried soils, which are represented by Ahb horizons, indicate soil formation mostly before 8.3 cal ka BP. In contrast, sandy cover sediments without signs of pedogenesis appeared between 8.3 and 6.6 cal ka BP due to increasing aridity. Characteristic micromorphological features of the cover sediments are a single grain microstructure, crystallitic b-fabric, predominant occurrence of fresh sideromelane, and remnants of microlayers. Micromorphological pedogenic features in the buried Ah horizons include a subangular blocky microstructure, undifferentiated b-fabric as a result of enrichment of organic matter and decalcification, and the predominant occurrence of completely altered sideromelane. Most of these horizons appeared to be nearly completely decalcified so that in parts a stipple speckled b-fabric and neoformed clay coatings could be detected as a result of stronger weathering and soil formation. Pedogenic data provide important information about Holocene climate fluctuations, including the amount of precipitation, which was calculated on the basis of geochemical data from buried A, AB and B horizons. The buried paleosols represent moist climate conditions with precipitation ranging from 400 to 600 mm a-1.
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