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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Gley soil,hydric soil,boulder clay

Gley soil in soil science is a type of hydric soil which exhibits a greenish-blue-grey soil color due to wetland conditions. On exposure to the air, gley colors are transformed to a mottled pattern of reddish, yellow or orange patches. During gley soil formation (a process known as Gleying), the oxygen supply in the soil profile is restricted due to soil moisture at saturation. Anaerobic micro-organisms support cellular respiration by using alternatives to free oxygen as electron acceptors. This is most often the case when the sesquioxide of iron, ferric oxide is reduced to ferrous oxide by the removal of oxygen. These reduced mineral compounds produce the gley soil color.

Gley soils may be sticky and hard to work, especially where the gleying is caused by surface water, held up on a slowly permeable layer. However, some ground-water gley soils have permeable lower horizons, including some sands, for example in hollows within sand dune systems, known as slacks, and in some alluvial situations.

Groundwater gley soils develop where drainage is poor because the water table (phreatic surface) is high, whilst Surface-water gleying occurs when precipitation inputs at the surface do not drain freely through the ground. A reducing environment exists in the saturated layers, which become mottled greyish-blue or brown because of the content of ferrous iron and organic matter. The presence of reddish or orange mottles indicates localised re-oxidation of ferrous salts in the soil matrix, and is often associated with root channels, animal burrows or cracking of the soil material during dry spells.
A stagnohumic gley soil in a forest plantation in mid-Wales, U.K. The organic-rich topsoil is over a grey and orange mottled subsoil developed in glacial till ("boulder clay")

Most soil classifications divide the gley soils into surface-water gleys (also known as stagnogleys) and gleys proper, or groundwater gleys, the former having a slowly pemeable lower subsoil, leading to a "perched" water table, the latter being in low ground or basin situations where the natural groundwater table is constantly high enough to influence the soil profile.

It is also a cheap alternative to clay.

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