Monitoring of micromorphological changes in a virgin Solonetz under regional changes in hydrology and climate (Northern Caspian Lowland, Russia)


Over the past 40 years, a clear trend towards an increasing humidity and a rising groundwater table has been observed in the south-eastern semidesert part of European Russia. According to the published data, two clear periods of climate are distinguished: 1950s-1970s and 1970s-2000s. The thin sections of a Solonetz sampled in different periods of time (1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1982, 2002 and 2013) at the Dzhanybek research station were studied micromorphologically to observe how these natural changes influenced soil pedofeatures. A comparison of thin sections showed no significant changes in soil properties between 1950s and 1982, when the hydrological (ground water table) and climatic parameters remained relatively stable. However, between 1982 and 2013, due to a significant increase in climatic moisture and rising groundwater, the following changes in soil microfeatures took place: the activation of humus accumulation and biogenic structuring, the eluviation of the silty clay-humus matter, the development of solodic features, gleyization of the soil mass, and the accumulation of opaque black organic grains about 2-3 µm formed in the topsoil due to the long stagnation during the springtime after snow melting. The water table rise leads to the consequent rise of the upper boundary of the accumulation of gypsum and carbonates.


Alexander EB, Nettleton WD. 1977. Post-Mazama Natrargids in Dixie Valley, Nevada. Soil Sci Soc Am J. 41:1210-1212.

Bazykina GS. 1978. The change in agrophysical properties of solonchakous Solonetzes in the northern Caspian Lowland due to amelioration. In: Kovda VA, editor. Issues of Soil Hydrology and Genesis. Moscow: Nauka. p. 5-31.

FAO. 2006. Guidelines for Soil Description. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. 97 p.

Fedoroff N, Courty MA. 1986. Micromorphology of natric horizons. In: Transactions of the 13th Congress International Society Soil Science, vol. 5. p. 1551-1552.

Field Guide to Soils of Russia. 2008. Moscow: V.V. Dokuchaev Soil Science Institute. 182 p.

Gerasimova MI, Gubin SV, Shoba SA. 1996. Soils of Russia and adjacent countries: Geography and micromorphology. Wageningen: Van Gils Graphic Centre. 204 p.

IUSS Working Group WRB. 2015. World Reference Base for Soil Resources 2014, update 2015. International soil classification system for naming soils and creating legends for soil maps. World Soil Resources Reports No. 106. Rome: FAO.

Ivanova EN, editor. 1964. Soils of the Complex Northern Caspian Plain and their Characteristics for Reclamation purposes. Moscow: Nauka. 292 p.

Konyushkova MV. 2014. Digital Soil Mapping of Solonetzic Regions in the Northern Caspian Lowland. Moscow: KMK Scientific Press. 316 p.

Kühn P, Aguilar J, Miedema R. 2010. Textural features and their related horizons. In: Stoops G, Marcelino V, Mees F, editors. Micromorphological Features of Soils and Regoliths. Their Relevance for Pedogenic Studies and Classifications. Amsterdam: Elsevier. p. 217-250.

Lebedeva (Verba) MP, Gerasimova MI. 2009. Macro- and micromorphological features of genetic horizons in a Solonetzic soil complex at the Dzanybek Research Station. Eurasian Soil Science 42(3):239-252.

Lebedeva (Verba) MP, Gerasimova MI, Konyushkova MV. 2009. Micromorphology of Solonetzic horizons as related to environmental events in the Caspian Lowland. Journal of Mountain Science 6(2):132-138.

Lebedeva MP, Konyushkova MV. 2010. Changes in micromorphological features of semidesert soils in the southeast of European Russia upon the recent increase in climate moistening [conference presentation on the internet]. In: Proceedings of the 19th World Congress of Soil Science. Soil Solutions for a Changing World; 2010 Aug 1-6; Brisbane, Australia. p. 12-15. Available from: WCSS/Symposium/pdf/1202.pdf.

Lebedeva MP, Konyushkova MV. 2011. Temporal changes in the microfabric of virgin and reclaimed Solonetzs at the Dzhanybek Reseach Station. Eurasian Soil Sci. 44(7):753-765.

Lebedeva (Verba) MP, Sizemskaya ML. 2011. Analysis of the microfabrics of reclaimed Solonetzs at the Dzhanybek research station for evaluation of their ecological status. Biology Bulletin 38(10):1001-1007.

Oliveira LB, Ferreira MGVX, Marques AF. 2004a. Characterization and classification of two soils derived from basic rocks in Pernambuco State Coast, northeast Brazil. Scientia Agricola 61:615-625.

Oliveira LB, Ribeiro MR, Ferraz FB, Ferreira MGVX, Mermut AR. 2004b. Mineralogia, Micromorfologia e Gênese de Solos Planossólicos do Sertao do Araripe, Estado de Pernambuco. Revista Brasileira de Ciência Solo 28:665-678.

Pol’sky MN. 1958. Agrophysical properties of solonchakous Solonetzes as the target of amelioration. The Proceedings of the Forest Institute of AS USSR. Scientific Bases for Land Improvement in Semideserts of Northwestern Caspian Lowland 38:58-73.

Rode AA. 1974. Biogeocenotic basics for the land management of the Northern Caspian semidesert. Moscow: Nauka. 360 p.

Rode AA. 1976. The Principles of Organization and the Methods of the Stationary Soil Study. Moscow: Nauka. 412 p.

Rode AA, Pol’sky MN. 1961. The soils of the Dzhanybek research station, their morphology, particle-size distribution, chemical and physical properties. Proceedings of V.V. Dokuchaev Soil Science Institute 56:3-214.

Rode AA, Pol’sky MN. 1963. The water regime and balance in the virgin soils of semidesert complex. In: Tyurin IV, editor. The Water Regime of Semidesert Soils. Moscow: Izdatelstvo Akademii Nauk SSSR. p. 5-83.

Sapanov MK. 2007. Synchronism of changes of Caspian sea level and ground waters in northern near-Caspian sea area at the second part of the XX Century. Izvestiya RAN. Geographical Series 5:82-87.

Sapanov MK, Sizemskaya ML. 2016. Climate changes and virgin vegetation dynamics in the Northern Caspian lowland. Biol. Bull. 43(10):1393-1400.

Sotneva NI. 2004. The dynamics of climatic conditions at the Dzhanybek Research Station in the northern Caspian Lowland in the second half of the XXth century. Izvestiya RAN. Geographical Series 5:74-83.

Stoops G. 2003. Guidelines for analysis and description of soil and regolith thin section. Madison, Wisconsin: Soil Science Society of America. 184 p.

Titkova TB. 2003. Climate changes of Near-Caspian and Tyrgaya semideserts in the XX Century. Izvestiya RAN. Geographical Series 1:106-112.

Verba MP, Yamnova IA. 1997. Gypsum neoformation in non–irrigated and irrigated soils of the serozem zone. In: Shoba SA, Gerasimova MI, Miedema R, editors. Proceedings of X International Workshop Meeting on Micromorphology. Soil Micromorphology: Studies on Soil Diversity, Diagnostics, Dynamics. Moscow, Wageningen. p. 187-195.

Vorob’eva LA. 2006. The Theory and Practice in Chemical Analysis of Soils. Moscow: GEOS. 400 p.

Yarilova EA. 1966. The peculiarities of micromorphological features of Solonetzes in the chernozemic and chestnut zones. In: Zonn SV, editor. The Micromorphological Method in the Research into Soil Genesis. Moscow: Nauka. p. 58-75.