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    Encyclopedia Arctica 6: Plant Sciences (Regional)


    Introduction: Soil Formation under Arctic Conditions

    Unpaginated      |      Vol_VI-0492                                                                                                                  
    (EA-PS. C. C. Nikiforoff)




    Pag e
    Soil Dynamics 1
    Sources of Pedogenic Energy 3
    Perennial Freezing of the Ground 6
    Tundra Type of Soil Formation 11
    Biological Factors of Soil formation 12
    Thermal Conditions of Soil Formation 16
    Hydrologic Regime of Tundra Soils 18
    Solifluction 21
    Frost Blisters and Involution 23
    Tundra Complexes 27
    Bibliography 33

    001      |      Vol_VI-0493                                                                                                                  
    EA-Plant Sciences

    [C. C. Nikiforoff]




    Soil Dynamics

            Soils of any natural region are neither better nor worse than are the

    regions, their climate, vegetation, and geological history. Evaluated by the

    standards of any region in the temperate belt the soils of the Arctic are very

    poor indeed. If, however, it were possible to detach bodily the best agricul–

    tural soil from its habitat and to reassemble it in the Arctic giving no further

    protection from the elements of the environment, than very soon it would cease

    to fare such better than the native soil. Nor would the poorest tundra soil,

    being similarly transferred to the corn belt retain very long its original

    character. It would not, indeed, produce immediately as high a yield of corn

    as a native soil, but in a relatively few years it would be able to support a

    higher yield than it supported in the Arctic.

            In both instances the transplanted soils would be immediately attacked by

    the local conditions which would tend to eradicate the original properties of

    the introduced soils and to impart to them the characteristics common to the

    region. Sooner or later the newcomers would be thoroughly naturalized.

            Hence, the properties of the soil are not fixed. Soils are capable of

    changes leading toward adjustment to a [ ?] flexible environment. In a geological

    002      |      Vol_VI-0494                                                                                                                  
    EA-Ps. Nikiforoff: Introduction

    perspective the environment is not static and every change in it is accompanied

    by a corresponding change in the soil. At a given time the character of the

    soil mirrors the conditions of the geographical landscape existing at that time.

    It might have been different in the past and it may change again in the future.

            The soil is a dynamic system. “Soil dynamics” means a totality of movements

    which continuously are taking place in the soil. Some movements are fast, others

    are very slow. Some of them are accomplished in a split second, while others

    continue for many years, Some movements affect only minute quantities of matter,

    say individual atoms or ions, whereas others represent shifting of many tons of

    material. Again, some of them are confined within a single molecule, and others

    cover great distances. Solifluction is a movement and so is the replacement of

    one exchangeable ion by another. Percolation of water, flows of heat, swelling

    of the soil aggregates on wetting, contraction and cracking of the soil mass on

    drying or freezing, emission of carbon dioxide, and leaching of soluble salts

    from the soils into the ocean — all these are various movements which collectively

    represent soil dynamics.

            Ceaseless movements are taking place, especially near the surface of the

    earth’s crust. This agitation rapidly diminishes with depth. At a depth of just

    a few tens of feet most of these movements either stop altogether or become

    geologically slow.

            There is no sharp line of demarcation between the relatively static sub–

    stratum and its dynamic geological skin. Therefore, the thickness of the activated

    skin cannot be measured precisely. The soil represents the uppermost and,

    naturally, the most active part of the skin, especially the part in which the

    dynamics are maintained largely by living organisms.

    003      |      Vol_VI-0495                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Nikiforoff: Introduction

            The movements which collectively represent the soil dynamics are not

    accidental or chaotic. They are precisely co-ordinated, interdependent, and

    controlled by various mechanical, physical, and chemical laws. In other words,

    they represent the work of a mechanism or a system. That is why the soil is

    defined as a dynamic system.

            Only the most dramatic manifestations of soil dynamics can be observed

    directly. Most of the individual movements are either much too slow to be

    noticed or made by such small quantities of matter that their registration

    requires the use of precision instruments or chemical analyses. A great deal

    more can be learned about soil dynamics through analysis of its summary effects.

            Every movement is a change of place or position; hence, every movement

    leaves some trace in the medium in which it takes place. The traces of indi–

    vidual movements may or may not be caught by our instruments, but collectively

    they impart to the initial medium a set of new properties or give to such a

    medium a new morphological as well as chemical profile. These profiles are

    the records of performances of soil systems.

            Each single movement represents a certain amount of work and all work consumes

    a certain amount of energy without which it cannot be performed and the system

    cannot function. It follows that the soil, being a steadily working system,

    must be continuously recharged with energy. This is the other essential feature

    of a dynamic soil. Without recharging it is merely a static fossil or a sort of

    geological mummy.


    Sources of Pedogenic Energy

            The principal sources of the thermal energy which activates the soil are solar

    radiation and atomic decay of radioactive substances in the interior of the earth’s

    004      |      Vol_VI-0496                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Nikiforoff: Introduction

    crust. The heat generated at these two sources flows into the soil from opposite

    directions and will be referred to hereafter as vadose heat and phreatic (or

    juvenile) heat, respectively. A much smaller quantity of heat is generated in

    the soil itself by liberation of latent heat of crystallization in the decomposi–

    tion of various endothermic mineral compounds such as aluminum silicates. Consi–

    derably more heat is released by the decomposition of organic residues in the

    soil. This heat, however, is only a part of the vadose energy which has been

    intercepted by the plant before it reached the soil.

            Usually it is assumed that the quantity of phreatic heat received by the

    soil is negligibly small in comparison with the inflow of vadose heat and that

    the temperature of the ground is maintained especially by insolation. This view,

    however, is not entirely convincing. It may be computed, indeed, that the

    amount of phreatic heat reaching the surface of the soil in a given area

    during a year is many times smaller than the amount of vadose heat received by

    this area during the same length of time. The difference ranges from nearly a

    thousand times in the high latitudes to several thousand times in the tropics.

    The temperature of the ground, however, represents not the heat which might be

    obtained on the surface but the heat that has been transmitted inside. By far the

    greater part of vadose heat is not used for warming the ground but is sent back

    into the atmosphere in the form of long-wave (infrared) terrestrial radiation

    without any thermal effect on the ground. Again, in higher latitudes the ground

    is covered with snow for a large part of the year and the snow may reflect up

    to 80% of the short-wave solar radiation. These and various other factors

    greatly diminish the warming of the ground by vadose heat.

            On the other hand, phreatic heat flows steadily, day and night, summer and

    winter, and all of it passes through the ground with inevitable thermal effect.

    005      |      Vol_VI-0497                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Nikiforoff: Introduction

            The uppermost layer of the ground including the soil may be visualized as

    a thermal pool into which the two streams of heat empty. Since the tempera–

    ture of the ground does not rise progressively, it follows that the capacity

    of the pool to receive heat is limited to a certain level at which the excess

    of heat is spilled away. In other words, the temperature of the ground is main–

    tained at a certain level by the altitude of the thermal spillway. Observations

    show that this level is within a very few degrees of the mean annual temperature

    of the air above the ground. Hence, it appears that the inflow of vadose heat

    builds a sort of thermal threshold or dam which determines the heat capacity

    of the pool — the temperature of the upper layer of the ground.

            The geothermal gradient shows that the flow of phreatic heat into the pool

    is aggraded to this threshold. The temperature of the ground at the threshold

    serves as the base level of the thermal drainage of the earth’s crust. Under

    conditions of the established geothermal gradient the temperature of the ground

    gradually increases with depth.

            The elevation of the rim of the thermal pool is fairly constant at the

    points of inflow of phreatic heat. Here the temperature of the ground is not

    affected by diurnal and annual pulsations of the inflow of vadose heat and this

    temperature serves as the base level of the geothermal gradient. The fact that

    a relatively constant temperature of the ground is maintained at a very short

    distance, usually some 20 or 30 feet, from the surface receiving vadose heat

    indicates that the pressure of the flow of phreatic heat is much stronger than

    could be expected on the basis of slowness of this flow, and that the role of

    phreatic heat in warming the ground is by no means negligible.

            All heat received at the thermal pool in excess of its capacity is discharge .d d.

    Normally, this outflow is in one direction only, from the ground into the air,

    006      |      Vol_VI-0498                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Nikiforoff: Introduction

    i.e., against the flow of vadose heat. Hence, vadose heat does not pass over

    the barrier built in its way by the contraflow of phreatic heat, whereas the

    latter steadily spills over the threshold formed by the inflow of vadose heat.

    Penetration of vadose heat deeper into the ground takes place only under certain

    specific conditions during the readjustment of the gradient which will be

    discussed later.


    Perennial Freezing of the Ground

            The elevation of the thermal threshold varies with latitude from a maxi–

    mum in the tropics to a minimum in the polar regions. In the Arctic it generally

    corresponds to a temperature of several degrees below the freezing point. The

    significance of such a low threshold is that the geothermal gradient, sloping

    to such a low base level, must cross the freezing point at some depth above

    which the ground must be perenially frozen except for a very thin outer shell

    which is subject to periodic defrosting by summer tides of vadose heat.

            Under conditions of an established gradient the thickness of the layer of

    frozen ground must be [ ?] constant. It can change only by readjustment of the

    gradient to a new base level which might be lowered or raised with geological

    changes in climate. Under a steady condition the thickness of the frozen

    ground is determined by the temperature at the base level of the gradient and

    by the steepness of the gradient. The temperature at the base of the gradient

    ranges from just a fraction of one degree below freezing to more than ten

    degrees below zero in the Centigrade scale. The steepness of the geothermal

    gradient is determined by the difference in temperature at the top and at the

    base of the gradient, the distance between these two [ ?] levels, and the

    thermoconductivity of the medium transmitting the heat. It is assumed that

    the difference in temperature might amount to about 1,200° to 1,400° C. and

    007      |      Vol_VI-0499                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Nikiforoff: Introduction

    that the distance from the hearth of phreatic heat to the base of the gradient

    is of the order of about ten to fifteen miles. It has been found that under

    various regional and local conditions the thickness of frozen layers ranges from

    several feet to more than a thousand feet.

            The antiquity of deep freezing of the ground in high latitudes is not

    precisely known. Some assume that freezing is a fairly recent phenomenon,

    others believe that it originated in Pleistocene time, or, probably, even earlier.

            Perhaps two different issues are confused in these discussions. One is the

    general freezing of the upper shell of the earth’s crust in high latitudes; the

    other the freeing of the ground in various particular regions.

            Deep freezing of the ground in high latitudes is a geophysical phenomenon

    which, in all likelihood, is just as old as the earth’s crust itself. It takes

    place because of the globular shape of the planet and the fact that the surface in

    high latitudes receives only a small amount of vadose heat. The base level of

    the geothermal gradient could not be high at any time throughout geological

    history in these latitudes. Therefore, deep freezing of the ground in high

    latitudes could have been possible in all geological periods.

            It does not follow, however, that the ground throughout the land [ ?] masses

    in high latitudes has been continuously frozen since the dawn of geological history.

    Its freezing does not depend entirely upon the low mean temperature of the air

    that is in contact with its surface. Various other factors affect the process.

    Particularly significant is the insulation of the ground by ice, snow, water, or

    vegetation and its residues. Some of these factors restrict the inflow of vadose

    heat into the ground, others check the outflow of heat from the ground. In a

    geological perspective, these conditions are not permanent. The ground might

    freeze at some particular air temperature under one set of conditions but will not

    008      |      Vol_VI-0500                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Nikiforoff: Introduction

    freeze at even lower mean temperature under other sets of conditions. Therefore,

    notwithstanding an everlasting possibility of deep freezing in high latitudes,

    the ground in particular regions might be frozen only temporarily.

            The ground is perennially frozen to a considerable depth throughout enor–

    mous areas in Eurasia and North America. Boundaries of these areas have not yet

    been mapped accurately. Highly generalized schematic maps show the areas under–

    lain by a continuous layer of frozen ground, similar areas which include

    scattered tracts of land without a frozen layer, and areas generally free of a

    frozen layer but including “islands” of frozen ground. The areas such as those

    in the second and third mapping units, which presumably are free of frozen layers,

    usually are those in which the ground is not frozen immediately below the depth

    of annual winter freezing. It does not necessarily indicate that there are no

    frozen layers at some greater depth. The absence of such layers can be ascertained

    only by deep drilling and a study of the geothermal gradient.

            Frozen layers, some of them up to a hundred feet thick and lying at a depth

    of several scores of feet, are not uncommon along the periphery of the regions

    affected by perennial ground frost. There can be hardly any doubt that these

    deep layers of frozen ground are remnants of previous through freezing of the

    ground from the surface downward. No layer of ground can freeze unless its heat

    is emitted and this can take place only through a medium having a progressively

    lower temperature. Hence, these layers could have been frozen only under the

    condition that the entire ground above them also was frozen and had a tempera–

    ture lower than their own.

            Defrosting of the upper part of previously frozen ground indicates change

    in climate and a slow regradation of the geothermal gradient toward a higher

    base level. Thawing of the remnants of a frozen layer must proceed from above

    009      |      Vol_VI-0501                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Nikiforoff: Introduction

    due to the inflow of vadose heat, and from below under the influence of phreatic

    heat. In such cases penetration of the vadose heat to a considerable depth into

    the ground is not obstructed by the contraflow of phreatic heat. These current

    meet in the lay layer having the lowest temperature, i.e., somewhere within the

    remaining frozen lens. Thus, it appears that islands which presumably are free

    or ground frost lens. Thus, it appears that islands which presumably are free

    of ground frost may or may not be actually free of it. Many of these islands

    may represent nothing more than local depressions in the surface of a continuous

    frozen sheet.

            Local defrosting of the ground indicates that the general boundary of regions

    that are affected by ground frost is not fixed. Depending upon changes in climate,

    the frozen layer may shi shrink vertically as well as horizontally, or it may

    expand. Consequently, various regions, especially in high middle latitudes —

    for example, in eastern Siberia — may now be passing through different stages

    of the process. Some parts of these regions are subject to a progressive def or ro st–

    ing, whereas others may suffer from enhanced freezing. Geophysical investigations

    have not advanced enough for even a rough delineation of these various regions.

            It appears fairly obvious, however, that it is entirely possible that some

    regions where no frozen ground exists at the present time could have been affected

    by ground frost, say in Pleistocene time or earlier, whereas other areas which

    are now frozen were probably unaffected by perennial freezing in the past. These

    various regions changes in geothermal regimes, however, represent hardly more than

    local phase of the general geophysical phenomenon, which very likely began during

    the earliest period of geological history and will end with the last chapter of

    this history.

            A deep perennial freezing of the ground takes places under conditions of low

    mean annual temperature and low precipitation. Since these conditions prevail

    010      |      Vol_VI-0502                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Nikiforoff: Introduction

            throughout the greater part of the Arctic, the ground is frozen to great depths

    practically throughout this belt. Exceptions are found under sufficiently large

    and deep bodies of water and, probably, under large glaciers.

            Scant precipitation appears to be no less essential for the freezing of

    the ground than negative mean temperature. Heavier precipitation, especially in

    the form of snow, combined with low temperature, leads to the accumulation of

    ice and eventual glaciations of the land which, probably, is rather antagonistic

    to deep freezing of the ground. Under the blanket of thick ice whose temperature

    near the ground appears to be about 0.0°C., the flow of phreatic heat cannot

    fail to reach the sole of the ice sheet and start a slow but ceaseless undercutting

    of the glacier.

            Grigoriev describes the thermal balance of the Arctic as decidedly negative.

    This means that on an annual basis the outflow of heat from the surface is greater

    than the inflow. This concept, however, is open to criticism. With chronically

    negative thermal balance the temperature of the ground should decrease progressively,

    which generally is not the case. The decrease takes place only in connect t ion

    with corresponding climatic changes; otherwise the temperature of the ground

    remains steady.

            Perhaps the idea of negative thermal balance is based on a somewhat erroneous

    computation. The income of heat is derived from measurements of solar radiation.

    The inflow of phreatic heat is disregarded as negligible. The outflow of heat

    representing infrared terrestrial radiation, however, includes the emission of

    both vadose and phreatic heat. Hence, the result shows an excess of outflow over

    inflow of heat. It follows that the so-called “negative thermal balance” might

    represent nothing more than the quantity of phreatic heat which reaches the surface

    of the ground the spills over the thermal threshold into space. Computations are

    011      |      Vol_VI-0503                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Nikiforoff: Introduction

    not by any means precise, indeed, and the result can be accepted only as a very

    rough first approximation of the phenomenon.


    Tundra Type of Soil Formation

            Practically all arctic soils develop under exceedingly strong influence of

    perennial freezing of the ground. Since the tundra represents the most typical

    landscape of the arctic and a large part of the subarctic belts, the soils of

    these regions usually are referred to as tundra soils. This is a very broad and

    inclusive term, and the tundra group includes many different soils. Some of these

    are formed on steep mountain slopes and others on broad plains, plateaus, marine

    and stream terraces, and flat coastal lowlands. Some of them are stony, others

    are stone-free, sandy, or clayey. Some tundra soils are boggy or marshy, whereas

    others are relatively well drained. Some are covered by a layer of peat or fairly

    compact fibrous tundra sod, whereas others are virtually bare. Again, some tundra

    sols are developed form local residual rock waste, whereas others are from glacial

    drifts, steam or marine sediments, and wind deposits. The common feature which

    unites all these various soils is that they all develop under more or less similar

    arctic climates. This, more than any other single factor, determines the general

    trend of the peculiar tundra type of soil formation.

            Glinka and some of his followers did not recognize an independent tundra type

    of soil formation. According to Glinka, the tundra soils are nothing more than

    underdeveloped or rudimental podsolic and bog soils. The influence of this view

    is still fairly strong in soil s ic ci ence. Reference to the so-called “pygmy podsols”

    of drawf podsols are not infrequent in reports on arctic soils, although a general

    group of tu i ndra soils is included in most soil classifications.

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    EA-PS. Nikiforoff: Introduction

            Glinka’s view is hardly justifiable. “Tundra soils” are not less indi–

    vidual than their antipodes, the “tropical soils.” They develop and function

    under specific conditions which do not exists in other natural zones. Their

    dynamics are fundamentally different from those of the soils of any other

    genetic type, and this, indeed, is the principal criterion for differentiation

    between type, and this, indeed, is the principal criterion for differentiation

    between various genetic groups of soils.

            The tundra soils develop under conditions of very low biological pressure,

    low temperature, and generally rather excessive moisture. These three principal

    factors impart to the tundra soils their peculiar characteristics. Virtually

    all tundra soils are generally cold, poorly aerated, and consequently poorly

    if at all oxidized, and little affected by organisms.


    Biological Factors of Soil Formation

            Tundra vegetation is scant is number of species and volume of vegetable

    matter per given area. Vegetative periods are very short, generally cool,

    with occasional frost especially at the beginning and the later part of the

    season, and characterized by continuous isolation which, according to Grigoriev,

    is relatively rich is harmful ultraviolent rays. The soil conditions for plant

    growth are equally poor. Due to perennial frost in the ground, the soils are

    generally much too cold for a normal development of most plants. Only a thin

    upper layer having a thickness of just a few inches may acquire for a short

    time a fairly high temperature and even overheated in exposed spots. The

    subsoil below this thin layer usually is saturated with cold melt water which

    hampers oxidation of the soil material. In particular, most of the free iron

    in tundra soils remains in the form of harmful peroxides. Again, roots are

    broken by a thorough freezing of the soil s in winter with formation of numerous

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    thin layers and lenses of pure ice interbedded with mineral soil.

            Few plants are able to adapt themselves to such adverse conditions and

    even their growth is very slow. It has been reported that the annual shoots of

    the arctic dwarf willow hardly exceed an inch in length, so that only a few

    new leaves are formed.

            The commonest plants in the tundra are lichens and mosses which do not form

    roots. Roots of other plants, including arctic shrubs such a dwarf polar birch,

    willow, and ledum, an a few herbs, mostly sedges, do not penetrate the soil to

    any considerable depth. Grigoriev states that “as a rule, roots do not extend

    deeper than 10 to 20 centimeters. Only the roots of dwarf birch reach a depth

    of 30 to 35 centimeters, and [ ?] occasionally 60 centimeters. Hence, the roots

    of tundra plants are distributed largely in the peaty layer; at the beginning

    of the vegetative period the active suckling new roots are predominantly in

    this layer.” A similar statement is made by Gorodkov, who points out that

    “roots and creeping stems of shrubs are able to distribute only in a peaty

    sod, hardly extending into the soil. One may easily pull out such a shrub by


            Under such conditions extraction of mineral elements from the deeper parts

    of the soil and accumulation of this material in the upper soil horizon — an

    essential feature of soil formation in the lower latitudes — proceed in the

    tundra at the exceedingly low rate. Precise data on the amount of annual produc–

    tion of new vegetable matter per given area are not available, but it hardly

    can be doubted that such production is meager. Thus the normal soil-to-plant–

    to-soil pedogenic cycles in the tundra affect only minute quantities of elements

    and even these are mobilized largely from the very think uppermost soil horizon.

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            Liverovski points out that the exchange capacity of various arctic soils

    is fairly high and that, due to the absence of strong leaching, the degree of

    saturation of these soils usually is very high also. In fact, the few analyses

    which have been made show the absence of exchangeable hydrogen. It follows

    that free bases are present in quantities sufficient for saturation of the soil.

    These bases, however, are largely inert because of very small requirement.

    for them by the scant and inexacting tundra vegetation.

            Because a meager growth of the sparse tundra plants, the annual depositions

    of organic resid e ues on the surface of tundra soils are very small indeed in

    comparison with those received by the soils of the temperate belt. Strong

    winter winds sweep away a large part of these residues together with the dust

    and dry snow. Leffingwell states that “such forms of vegetation as occur upon

    the t T undra are broken off and carried by the wind to great distance, but the

    total amount of such material must be very small.”

            Decomposition of the remaining part of organic residues also is slow. The

    shortness of the warm season combined with poor aeration and prevailingly low

    temperature of the soil hinder development of the microbial population and reduce

    biochemical activity in tundra soils to a very low level. Hence, throughout

    the tundra, in spite of meager growth of plants, there is a tendency for the

    formation on the surface of the soil of a fibrous peaty mat, usually interwoven

    by the roots of shrubs. In the Arctic proper this peaty mat is rarely more than

    a few inches thick and is act continuous over large areas. Usually it forms

    in relatively depressed places, which may catch some drifting snow in winter,

    and is absent on exposed elevated spots. Toward the boundary of subarctic and

    wooded tundras and throughout these tundras the thickness and continuity of the

    peaty cover increase.

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            A meager production of vegetable matter in the tundra indicates a very

    low rate of assimilation of atmospheric carbon dioxide by plants. In the same

    way, slow decomposition of the scant organic residues results in a very low

    rate of emission of this gas from the soil into the air. These complementary

    processes are in accord with a conspicuously low content of carbon dioxide in

    the air in high latitudes. This content of carbon dioride in th is only a

    little more than half that in the middle and lower latitudes.

            Scarcity of microbial population of the tundra soils is responsible

    also for a very low rate of fixation of free nitrogen. Moreover, due to the

    prevailing poor aeration of these oils, the existing population consists

    predominantly of anacrobic organisms, among which are only few nitrifying

    species but a greater number o of denitrifying ones. Hence, as a rule, the

    nitrogen content of most tundra soils is extremely low.

            The peaty layer, which is called trunda in Siberia, overlies the mineral

    substratum, which is gray and in places mottled with rusty strains stains. The

    boundary between the two layers usually is sharp, especially if the lower

    layer is clayey. Few roots extend from the upper layer into the lower and,

    in all likelihood, little exchange of material between the two layers is

    taking place. The mineral substratum is practically unaffected by biochemical

    processes and, usually, is not differentiated into various horizons, the formation

    of which is controlled by these factors.

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    Thermal Conditions of Soil Formation

            Formation of tundra soils takes place at a very low temperature which

    slackens all chemical and especially biochemical processes. Virtually all

    biochemical activity cease at a temperature just below the freezing point; most

    chemical processes also come practically to a standstill at this temperature.

            During the long arctic winter most tundra soils are solidly frozen and,

    so to say, chemically dormant. Their defrosting in spring and in the cool

    and short summer is slow and rather ineffective. Since the geothermal gradient

    in the Arctic is aggraded to a temperature several degrees below freezing point

    and crosses this point at considerable depth, the flow of phreatic heat does

    not [ ?] enhance the seasonal warming of these soils. Summer defrosting of the

    tundra soils is due entirely to the inflow of vadose heat, the rate of which

    is not high. Grigoriev states that at 73° N. L l attitude the effective radiation

    from May 1 through October 1 amounts to about 50,000 calories per square

    centimeter of horizontal surface. About four-fifths of this amount is sent

    back to the air as long-wave terrestrial radiation. In the lower latitudes a

    large part of this radiation is absorbed in the air, especially by water vapor,

    and turned again toward the earth. In the Arctic, however, the content of

    water vapor in the cold polar air is very low. The content of carbon dioxide

    also is low, as has been mentioned above. These conditions drastically decrease

    absorption of terrestrial radiation in the air so that the heat emitted from

    the ground is large l y lost to space without much thermal effect on the soil.

            The remaining part of the heat generated by radiant energy, which on the aver–

    age amounts to about 10,000 calories per square centimeter per year, is largely

    consumed in the melting of snow and ground ice. It has been calculated that

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    defrosting to the depth of one meter of a soil with moisture content of 0.3

    gram of water per cubic centimeter required 2,400 calories per each square centi–

    meter of surface. Moisture content of many tundra soils is considerably higher

    than this and their defrosting requires more heat for melting of ground ice.

    Thus probably not more than about 2,000 calories per square centimeter are left

    for warning the soil and raising its temperature above freezing point.

            Depending upon steepness and direction of the slope, character of vegeta–

    tion, mechanical composition, porosity and moisture of the soil, specific heat,

    and thermoconductivity of its mineral material, as well as various other condi–

    tions, tundra soils thaw to a maximum depth of only a few feet. In many places

    this depth is less than a foot. Defrosting lasts only a few months, on the

    average , probably not more than about a hundred days a year. The duration

    of defrosting, of course, decreases with dcp depth so that only the upper foot

    or two remains free of frost throughout the warm season.

            The proximity of the frozen subsoil, which steadily consumes the inflow–

    ing heat for melting of ground ice, prevents the rise of temperature for more

    than a few degrees above the freezing point even in this thin layer so that only

    the uppermost few inches of it may [ ?] acquire fairly high temperature and even

    be overheated on bare elevated spots.

            Such are the limits of space and time within which the strongly sh subdued

    chemical processes take place in tundra soils. The relative ineffectiveness

    of the processes in arctic environment is particularly conspicuous in the

    general character of weathering, which is decidedly dominated by physical processes.

    Disintegration of rocks in the tundra, especially by frost action, is quite strong,

    whereas chemical decomposition even of the less resistant minerals is very slow.

    Hence, the resultant products are as a rule of very coarse texture with an ex–

    ceedingly low content of residual clay.

    018      |      Vol_VI-0510                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Nikiforoff: Introduction

            The low rate of chemical decay of rock debris and formation of residual

    clay does not mean, however, that tundra soils are predominantly coarse and

    skeletal. Large parts of the arctic land are formed by broad marine terraces

    underlain by marine sediments including marine clays. River terraces and ex–

    tensive deltas of great rivers which cross the tundra and empty into the arctic

    seas are built of fine alluvium brought down from warmer regions outside of the

    arctic belt. Other enormous areas are covered by glacial moraines. A great

    many tundra soils are developed from these various preweathered materials and

    are characterized by a very fine mechanical composition. Large areas of the

    Siberian Arctic are f referred to as “clayey tundras;” in fact, clayey tundra

    soils very likely are more common than sandy ones, especially through the

    arctic coastal lowlands.


    Hydrologic Regime of Tundra Soils

            The third conspicuous feather of the tundra type of soil formation is that,

    in spite of very low precipitation, it takes place under a condition of excessive

    moisture. Throughout a large part of the Arctic the mean annual rainfall is

    less than ten inches; large areas have less than five inches. Nevertheless

    most tundra soils are practically saturated throughout the periods of their

    defrosting. Two factors are chiefly responsible for such a condition — im–

    permeability of the frozen subsoil and very low rate of evaporation. Inci–

    dentally, the last factor is also responsible for the very low content of water

    vapor in the air and, consequently, the loss of a large part of the heat emitted

    by terrestrial radiation.

            In the absence of efficient evaporation the small quantity of rain water,

    which comes in rather frequent summer drizzles, and the melt water formed by the

    019      |      Vol_VI-0511                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Nikiforoff: Introduction

    defrosting of the soil remains in the defrosted layer and accumulates on the

    surface of the frozen substratum. The discharge of melt water by surface runoff

    is generally small, due in part to inadequate dissection of the land by the

    drainage channels and in part to a peculiar tundra microrelief which will be

    described later.

            Again, only the uppermost layer of the defrosted soil, having a thickness

    of only a few inches, dries thoroughly. On elevated spots which are barely

    covered by vegetation it may even be so desiccated that shallow rooted plants

    wilt and die. Such spots, ranging in diameter from several feet to several

    rods, are a common feature of the tundra landscape. Because of their relative

    elevation they are practically denuded of snow by wind, and are subject to the

    full fury of arctic winter. The soil of these spots freezes faster and deeper

    and its temperature drops lower than in nearby depressions in which the snow

    accumulates. Also, in summer, the soil on these spots thaws faster and to a

    greater depth and its upper layer is subject to the sporadic overheating and

    desiccation that kills shallow-rooted vegetation. Deep-rooted plants which

    would reach the waterlogged layer just a few inches below to not survive be–

    cause in freezing during winter thin lenses of ice are formed in the soil and

    break the rootlets. All these various conditions lead to a permanent baldness

    of such spots and to the development of a typical mosaic of the “tundra complex.”

            Waterlogging of tundra soils during the period of defrosting prevents their

    aeration and normal oxidation as well as the development of aerobic biochemical

    activity. Under much conditions, the iron compounds in tundra soils remain

    largely in the peroxide from which imparts to these soils a conspicuous dull gray,

    sometimes bluish gray color, in place mottled with rusty stains.

    020      |      Vol_VI-0512                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Nikiforoff: Introduction

            This color is a common characteristic of most tundra soils. It is particu–

    larly strong in the peaty or boggy tundras, the soils of which arereferred to

    as gley-peaty or gley-bog soils. Only decidedly sandy tundra soils and especially

    those in hilly regions, for example those on terminal moraines, may be free of

    waterlogging and gley formation. Generally these soils thaw to a greater depth,

    are somewhat better oxidized, and are somewhat warmer in summer than heavier soils.

            Impossibility of percolation of vadose water through the perennially frozen

    subsoil and waterlogging to within a few inches from the surface, and in low

    spots completely, prevent leaching of tundra soils as well as redistribution between

    the various soil horizons of finely divided material by its transportation in

    suspension. Therefore, neither eluvial nor illuvial horizon can be formed.

    Again, exceptions are possible only in sandy soils in which some traces of weak

    podsolization have been described by various authors (Liverovski, Grigoriev,

    Gorodkov, and others). Such soils are called the pygmy tundra podsols.

            Due to lack of leaching, even minute quantities of various soluble compounds

    which may be set free by the strongly subdued chemical weathering, are not

    readily if at all removed from the soil and, occasionally, may even be lifted

    to the surface by capillary pull. For example, the presence of carbonates and

    various other salts on and near the surface of the soils of bare spots is not

    uncommon. Liverovski states that these soils might acquire the character of

    peculiar tundra solonchaks (saline soils). Salinization even weak as it may

    be, however, is not an essential characteristic of the tundra-type soils forma–

    tion in general. Most tundra soils are not saline in spite of the lack of

    leaching. Nevertheless, even a sporadic local occurrence of such soils shows

    the influence of perennial freezing of the ground upon the dynamics of various

    soluble compounds in tundra soils.

    021      |      Vol_VI-0513                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Nikiforoff: Introduction



            Waterlogging of tundra soils is accompanied by solifluction wherever relief

    allows the development of sufficient hydrostatic pressure. Although periods of

    annual defrosting of tundra soils are short, periods in which solifluction

    occurs are still shorter. Solifluction begins when the soil is thawed to a

    sufficient depth and enough water is accumulated in the lower part of the defrosted

    layer to render it fluid. Usually such a condition is reached in early summer.

    The process slows down and finally ends early in fall as soon as new freezing of

    the soil from the surface cuts short the supply of melt water and builds numerous

    obstructions in the way of subsoil mud-flows.

            Solifluction affects especially clayey and loamy soils in which clay and

    other finely divided material serves as a sort of lubricant. It is less common

    with sandy soils, which generally are drier than soils of finer texture.

            Fluid mud under the relatively dry and solid crust of surface soil probably

    never moves in a sheet because of the unevenness of the frozen surface over which

    it slides. The rate of defrosting of tundra soils varies from place to place.

    Minute changes in character of the surface, such as its microrelief, differences

    in density and composition of vegetation, or in thickness of moss or peat cover,

    strongly affect the speed of thawing of the soil and lead to the development

    of a subterranean microrelief of the surface of the frozen subsoil. The differ–

    ence in depth of thaw may be more than two feet within a linear distance of

    only a few feet.

            Hence the surface of the frozen ground consists of numerous mounds and

    little ridges separated by hollows, miniature troughs, and other depressions

    throughout periods of defrosting. The [ ?] subterranean microrelief may or may

    022      |      Vol_VI-0514                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Nikiforoff: Introduction

    not correspond to the microrelief of the surface of the soil. For example,

    the bald mounds or other bare spots are defrosted faster and to a greater depth

    than the adjacent depressions which are covered with moss or a thin layer of

    peat. Thus, not uncommonly hollows on the frozen subsurface are formed under

    relatively elevated portions of the land surface.

            Melt water accumulates in these hollows in the subsoil and begins to move

    through the labyrinth of interconnected shallow channels which may narrow in some

    places and widen in others. The layers of fluid mud ( plyvun or quick-mud) must

    acquire a certain thickness in order to overcome friction with the surfaces be–

    tween which it has to move and develop momentum. It slides easily over the

    smooth frozen surface but it has to tear itself away from the overlaying sod

    or crust or dry soil unless it carries this material along.

            The velocity of mud-flows changes with slope, moisture content, thickness

    of the fluid layer, character of the subterranean microrelief, and various other

    factors, and apparently never is uniform throughout any considerable area. Hence

    the hydrostatic pressure of solifluction drops in certain [ ?] places and rises

    in others. Wherever it rises it may become strong enough to lift the overlying

    crust of dry soil and bulge the soil up to form new mounds and ridges. If the

    crust or sod is not strong or elastic enough to bend, it may break and quick-mud

    pours out onto the surface.

            With the upward lifting of the sod, hydrostatic pressure under the new mounds

    subsides, and the flow of mud through this channel may stop altogether, forcing

    the mud advancing from the higher areas to seek other outlets or to form other

    similar mounds or ridges. Bulging up of the mounds enhances evaporation from the

    surface the thus drying of the soil, so that the quick-mud under the mound thickness

    and the local swelling becomes temporarily stabilized.

    023      |      Vol_VI-0515                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Nikiforoff: Introduction

            During winter, however, new mounds are subject to the usual hazards of

    arctic environment. Winds sweep away the snow, leaving the mounds unprotected

    against frost. In summer tops may suffer from overheating and desiccation.

    All these various factors rapidly kill vegetation, destroy the remnants of

    meager sod, and render the mounds bald. Then, by the combined efforts of blow–

    ing asunder, slurring with melting snow and ice, and erosion by rains, the

    mounds are gradually leveled, again occupied by lichens, moss, and other plants,

    and finally [ ?] obliterated until solifluction bulges up another swelling thus

    starting the next cycle. Such, in general, are the dynamics of tundra micro–

    relief, brought about and maintained by solifluction, the general trend of which

    is toward movement downslope of the loosened-by-defrosting soild material.


    Frost Blisters and Involution

            Solifluction is essentially a summertime process. As pointed out above, it

    ceases early in the fall and is rejunvenated the following summer. In winter

    tundra soils are affected by different processes. Freezing of tundra soils in

    fall and early winter is not more uniform than their defrosting in summer. De–

    pending upon various local conditions, the soils freeze at certain points much

    faster and to a greater depth than in other places. Therefore, the inward advancing

    frost-front acquires its own microrelief facing toward the sub e terranean surface

    microrelief of the perennially frozen ground. In place where freezing is

    especially fast, the fall freezing may advance to the depth of maximum summer

    thaw, so that the interfacing frost-fronts meet and the soil becomes thoroughly

    frozen from the surface to the bottom of the perennially frozen layer. In these

    places the external frozen crust is fastened to the perennially frozen substratum.

    024      |      Vol_VI-0516                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Nikiforoff: Introduction

            Such a meeting of frozen layers, however, does not take place simultaneously

    throughout the area and in many places probably does not occur at all. The

    frost-front, advancing from the surface downward, eventually reaches the layer

    of soil saturated with summer melt water and [ ?] seals this water between the

    two solidly frozen surfaces. Water or fluid mud trapped between the frozen layers

    is confined to the maze of flattened interconnected pools spreading between

    points at which the soil is solidly frozen to indefinite depth. Thickness of

    this unfrozen layer ranges from a fraction of an inch in some places to more

    than a foot and probably even to several feet in others. Some pools may have an

    area of a few tens of square feet, whereas others may occupy more than an acre.

    Again, some pools may be completely closed, whereas others may be interconnected

    over fairly large areas.

            Sometimes during the winter the temperature at the depth of this trapped

    water decreases below freezing, but feezing of the water is impeded by lack of

    space for expansion. Therefore, formation of any amount of ice in these layers

    is accompanied by a rise of frost-generated hydrostatic pressure. It may

    increase to an equivalent of several tens of atmospheres. Since the underlying

    frozen ground is virtually indestructible, all this pressure is directed against

    the overlying crust of frozen soil. Sooner or later the pressure rises to a

    point high enough to overcome the resistance of the crust. At this moment the

    soil can be split horizontally and its upper part may be lifted enough to allow

    the trapped water to freeze the form a layer of ice ranging in thickness from less

    than an inch t to several feet.

            The strength of the crust of frozen soil, however, varies from place to

    place, and, naturally, and crust bends or breaks first at the points of its

    025      |      Vol_VI-0517                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Nikiforoff: Introduction

    greatest weakness. At these points the upper crust is torn away from the sub–

    soil and begins to bulge up as an immense frost blister. Such blisters may

    rise more than l ten feet and have a base considerably more than a hundred feet

    in diameter. If the swelling provides enough room, then all the water in it

    freezes and ice fills the cavern in the form of large lenses. Otherwise, the

    blister bursts open with a loud report, and the excess water and mud pour out

    and freeze on the surface. The remaining part of the water inside the cavern


            Formation of blisters is, indeed, the most spectacular manifestation of

    the process. Perhaps more commonly the frost-generated hydrostatic pressu r e is

    released less dramatically and, so to say, piecemeal. A slight bulging up here

    and there, sometimes for an inch or a few inches at a time, is accompanied by

    formation of thin layers or lenses of ice. Very commonly these layers of ice are

    only a small fraction of an inch thick and are formed in series, interbedded

    with soil.

            If the soil is porous or broken by cracks due to contraction on chilling,

    then water is squeezed to the surface where it freezes layer by layer to form

    external icing or taryns . This process is most common in stream valleys where

    a single icing may cover several square miles and the ice may be several tens

    of feet thick.

            As has been pointed out, individual pools of fluid mud and water, entrapped

    by winter freezing, may be interconnected. Differences in intensity of freezing,

    may be interconnected. Differences in intensity of freezing and, consequently,

    in hydrostatic pressure at various parts of the subsurface labyrinth create

    stresses tending to maintain an equilibrium throughout the system. The release

    of hydrostatic pressure at particular points, whether by the break of a blister

    026      |      Vol_VI-0518                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Nikiforoff: Introduction

    or by bulging of the upper crust, directs the forced flows toward these points

    from surrounding areas.

            Fluid mud may be carried and pushed by these stresses one way or another un–

    til it becomes frozen. It is forced into cracks and other cavities, including

    caverns of large and small frost blisters; or it may be ejected onto the surface,

    sometimes forming miniature and volcanoes. Thus the material of inner soil

    horizons is displaced horizontally and vertically.

            Most of the ice layers, wedges, and lenses melt during the summer, the

    blisters collapse, and the soil subsides till the following winter when the

    same processes are repeated. Repetition of such vertical movements year after

    year leads to a gradual infiltration of finely divided material, such as clay

    and silt, into the lower horizons and accumulation of coarse material on the

    surface. On bare spots such an accumulation is enhanced by wind erosion which

    sweeps the remaining fine material away leaving in places nothing but stones

    on the surface of the soil. This common process is essentially similar to the

    formation of “desert pavement” (Leffingwell, Grigoriev, Liverovski, and others).

    Since wind erosion in tundra affects especially the relatively elevated areas,

    such as the tops of mounds and ridges that are unprotected by vegetation, the

    distribution of the stony armor usually is very uneven (stony rings, stony

    strips, and so on).

            All these various processes are a part of the dynamics of tundra soils,

    and they impart of these soils peculiar morphological d characteristics.

    Grigoriev points out that the soil horizon may display a somewhat chaotic ar–

    rangement. Especially conspicuous are the characteristics which result from

    horizontal displacements of material in the middle and lower horizons. These

    displacements break the vertical unity of the soil profiles. Either by soli-

    027      |      Vol_VI-0519                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Nikiforoff: Introduction

    fluction or by frost-generated hydrostatic pres s ure horizons may be removed in

    their entirely to be replaced by foreign material pressured into the evacuated

    space (involution).

            Due to these various horizontal and vertical movements repeated year after

    year — peculiar processes, some of which affect the soil in summer and the

    others in winter — the profiles of most, if not all, tundra soils are mechanically



    Tundra Complexes

            The intensity of the several processes, some of which have been described,

    varies from place to place. Their relative strength is determined by various

    regional and local conditions. Thus solifluction does not take place in topo–

    graphically featureless flat areas. It is particularly strong in sloping areas

    in which the summer thaw of the soil is deep enough for an accumulation of melt

    water in quantities sufficient for rendering the subsoil fluid. Such conditions

    are more common in subarctic tundras and even farther south of the tundra zone,

    in parts of the taiga belt affected by perennial ground frost. In the Far

    North defrosting of the ground does not extend deep enough to provide physical

    instability of the layer in which forces of solifluction would develop a

    necessary momentum.

            Horizontal splitting of the soil by ice lenses and frost blistering may

    take place throughout the Arctic; but, again, if the upper frozen crust is

    relatively thin, it then yields and cracks or bends before hydrostatic pressure

    in the entrapped fluid layer can rise very high. Hence, in the Arctic proper,

    where average depth of annual defrosting of tundra soil does not exceed a foot

    or two, formation of frost blisters is less common and blisters that do form

    028      |      Vol_VI-0520                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Nikiforoff: Introduction

    are smaller than, say, those in wooded areas.

            In the Far North, especially in the subpolar deserts, somewhat different

    processes are taking place. Practically all explorers of the Arctic point

    out a peculiar mosaic of the surface of arctic tundra. Several types or

    patterns of this mosaic have been described under the name of tetragonal and

    polygonal tundras, spotted tundras, mound tundras, and others. It appears

    likely that most, if not all, these various types of arctic tundra develop

    through winter frost action which breaks the surface layer of the ground into

    large and small roughly polygonal blocks.

            Although formation of frost cracks was first pointed out more than a

    century ago (Figurin, Middendorff), Bunge probably was the first to describe it

    in considerable detail and to suggest a plausible explanation of the phenomenon

    and its impact upon the tundra ladscape. A few decades later, Bunge’s observa–

    tions and hypothesis were confirmed by Leffingwell who independently arrived

    at much the same conclusions. Recently the literature on this subject [ ?]

    has been greatly expanded; but little new has been added to the original ideas

    of Bunge and Leffingwell.

            One of the commonest patterns of arctic tundra is formed by irregular polygons

    with edges slightly elevated above the flat middle parts in the shape of miniature

    gently sloping ridges. Each polygon is surrounded by its own ridges, so that

    between ridges encircling neighboring polygons there is a furrow or trough

    along which runs a crack extending to a considerable [ ?] depth.

            Cracking takes place during winter, presumably due to contraction of the

    frozen ground on chilling. Leffingwell states that this cracking is accompanied

    by loud reports and shocks which may be strong enough to shatter dishes in


    029      |      Vol_VI-0521                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Nikiforoff: Introduction

            Precise data as to depth of cracking are not available. It appears, how–

    ever, that if the original cracking is due to contradiction of the ground, then,

    obviously, it cannot extend below the level at which annual changes in tempera–

    ture are too small for the necessary changes in volume of the ground. It is

    assumed that frost cracks may extend several feet below the depth of maximum

    summer thawing of the soil. At the surface, cracks may be more than an inch

    wide, their width decreasing with depth to the vanishing point.

            In the horizontal plane, the cracks are oriented in either a conspicuous

    tetragonal or, more commonly, polygonal pattern. The former is formed by more

    or less parallel cracks which run in two different directions intersecting each

    other at about right angles. Thus, these cracks divide the soil roughly into

    rectangular blocks (the checker-board pattern).

            It has been observed that the rectangular pattern of cracks develops where

    one series of parallel cracks follows the direction of a bank, lake or stream

    shore, terrace edge, or some other similar natural boundary line. More commonly

    the cracks radiate in three different directions, from more or less proportionally

    distributed points, and join to form a honeycomb or mud-crack pattern dividing

    the surface into roughly hexagonal or pentagonal blocks.

            Individual polygons vary in size from area to area. Within a single area,

    a however, size range is rather narrow. Leffingwell states that the average size

    of blocks in the region of his study is about sixteen yards. According to Taber,

    the polygons range from 35 to 60 feet in diameter; whereas Bungs points out that

    large polygons usually are broken into much smaller units by smaller cracks.

            In warm seasons the cracks are filled with melt or rain water which eventually

    freezes to form “ice wedges” that enlarge the original fissures. It is assumed

    030      |      Vol_VI-0522                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Nikiforoff: Introduction

    that, once formed, the crack serves as a plane of weakness of tensile strains.

    Thus the same cracks reopen year after year, each time receiving more water, with

    more ice forming each following winter. Hence, formation of ice wedges, pre–

    sumably, leads to progressive lateral and vertical enlargement of cracks and

    exerts strong pressure upon their walls. This, in turn, should force the ground

    on the peripheries of the polygons to bulge and form ridges. Such ridges may

    be several feet wide and more than a foot higher than the floor of the encircled

    depression. The depression usually is devoid of vegetation, rather boggy, and

    may be occupied by a shallow pool in summer.

            The polygonal tundra is typical of low and generally boggy coastal flats,

    broad marine and stream terraces, and other level areas in which solifluction

    does not take place.

            Surface configuration of the mound tundra is different. Here the [ ?]

    middle parts of the polygons are elevated and surrounded by narrow hollows or

    troughs forming a honeycomb network marking the courses of frost cracks. At

    points where the cracks branch, the hollows usually are wider and somewhat

    deeper than between these points. Therefore, the angles of the perimeters of

    polygons usually are mor or less rounded. The smaller the individual polygons,

    the more pronounced is their rounded shape, although the pattern of the cracks

    themselves remains pl polygonal. Elev l ation of middle parts of the blocks above

    surrounding depressions ranges from about a foot to more than two feet. Large

    blocks may have flattened tops, whereas smaller ones are characterized by gently

    rounded vertical profi l es.

            It is likely that bulging up of these mounds is due largely to pressure from

    the periphery exerted by the ice wedges growing in frost cracks. In this case,

    however, the pressure must be transmitted farther from the walls of cracks toward

    031      |      Vol_VI-0523                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Nikiforoff: Introduction

    the center of the block, thus forcing the ground upward in the middle parts of

    the polygon rather than at its edges. Again, if the size of polygons is small,

    then the peripheral ridges might merge to form a general mound instead of a ring

    around a middle depression. Slumping of the edge of open cracks should cause

    some widening of furrows between mounds as well as rounding of the mounds them–


            Wherever solifluction, frost blistering, frost cracking, or any other simi–

    lar process takes place the surface of the tundra acquires a conspicuous micro–

    relief. The commonest type of tundra microrelief is represented by small, more

    or less rounded mounded rising a foot or two above the surrounding (and usually

    boggy) depressions. Such microrelief might develop due to solifluction or frost

    cracking. Mounts formed by solifluction are generally larger, more irregular

    in shape, and less densely distributed throughout the area than mounds that are

    formed by gu bulging up of the polygons. Mounds of the latter type range in

    diameter from several feet to a few tens of feet and usually are set very thickly,

    with only narrow furrows between; whereas mounds built by solifluction may be

    several times larger and may be separated by wider boggy areas.

            Irrespective of the mode of formation, the mounds usually are covered by

    very scant vegetation and not uncommonly are devoid of any vegetation except

    for some lichens. The tundra vegetation — mosses, sedges, and shrubbery —

    crowds in hollows where snow gives it some protection against the rigors of

    arctic winter. Not uncommonly, depressions between mounds are crowded by fairly

    high compact tufts (tussocks) formed by bunch sedges. Other depressions may

    be lined with a thin layer of peat. In a typical arctic mound tundra, vegetation

    confined to the furrows and edges of cracks forms a network of garlands enmeshing

    the elevated patches of bare ground.

    032      |      Vol_VI-0524                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Nikiforoff: Introduction

            The depressed polygons (tetragons, hexagons, and others) represent the

    other conspicuous kind of microrelief of the arctic tundras. Here the depressed

    middle parts of the polygons usually are devoid of vegetation, which is confined

    to the edge of frost cracks and furrows between the peripheral ridges encircl–

    ing the adjacent depressions. Dranitsin described this kind of microrelief as

    a “medallion tundra.”

            Like the tundra soils themselves, tundra microrelief is restless. Each year

    new mounds bulge up here and there, while some older ones are flattened and dis–

    appear under the moss.

            Due to uneven distribution of vegetation and wide differences in thermal and

    hydrologic conditions between the elevated and depressed areas, the general

    character of tundra soils changes sharply within very short distances. In fact,

    most of the tundra is occupied by several different soils which are so distributed

    in relation to one another that no one dominates the landscape or occupies

    solidly any considerable area, but all collectively form a sort of soil tissue

    commonly referred to as a “soil complex,” or, more specifically, “a topographic

    soil complex.”

            The distribution of various components of a topographic soil complex is

    determined by the microrelief. The most contrasting members of the topographic

    soil complex or its “end members” are the soil occupying the better drained

    elevated spots and a different soil which forms in boggy depressions. The

    commonest d tundra soil complexes are those which occupy the mound and polygonal


    033      |      Vol_VI-0525                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Nikiforoff: Introduction


    1. Berg, L. S. Priroda . (In Russian.) English translation: Natural Regions

    of the USSR . N.Y., Macmillan, 1950.

    2. Bunge, A. von. “Naturhistorische Beobachtungen und Fahrten im Lena Delta.”

    (In German.) St. Petersburg, Academy of Science, Bull . vol.29,

    pp.422-75, 1884.

    3. Gerasimov, I. P., and Markov, K. K. Glacial Period in the Territory of the

    USSR . (In Russian with English summary.) Moscow-Leningrad, Acad.

    Sci. U.S.S.R., 1939.

    4. Grigoriev, A. A. Subarctic . (In Russian.) Moscow-Leningrad, Acad. Sci. U.S.S.

    R., 1946.

    5. Leffingwell, E. deK. “The Canning River Region, Northern Alaska,” U.S.

    Geol.Surv., Prof.Paper 109. 1919.

    6. Liverovski, Y.A. Soils of the Boggy Tundra Belt. (In Russian.) Moscow–

    Leningrad, Acad. Sci. U.S.S.R., 1937.

    7. Lukashev, K. I. “Mound formation as a manifestation of the tension in the

    perennially frozen soils.” (In Russian.) University of Leningrad,

    Univ., Annals , pp. vol.3, pp.147-58, 1936.

    8. Middendroff, A. T. von. Sibirische Reise . Acad. Sci. St. Petersburg,

    Acad. Sci., 1848-1859.

    9. Nikiforoff, C. C. “On certain dynamic processes in the soils of perennially

    frozen regions. (In Russian and French.) Pochvovedenie , no.2,

    pp.50-74, 1912.

    10. ----. “The perpetually frozen subsoil of Siberia,” Soil Sciences, vol.26, pp.

    61-81, 1928.

    11. Obruchev, S. V. “Solifluction terraces and their origin, based on survey in

    the Chukotsk region.” (In Russian.) Problemy Arktiki , no.3, pp.

    27-48; no.4, pp.57-83, Leningrad, 1937.

    12. Porsild, A. E. “Earth mounds in unglaciated northwestern America,” Geog.Rev. ,

    vol.28, pp.45-58, 1938.

    13. Sharp. R. P. “Ground-ice mounds in Tundra,” Geog.Rev ., vol.32, pp.417-23, 1942.

    14. Stefansson, V. “Ground ice in northern Alaska,” Am. Geog.Soc. Bull , vol.42,

    pp.337-45, 1910.

    15. ----. “Underground ice sheets of the Arctic Tundra,” Am.Geog.Soc. Bull , vol.

    40, pp.176-77, 1908.

    034      |      Vol_VI-0526                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Nikiforoff: Introduction

    16. Sumgin, M. I. Ever Frozen Soils in the U.S.S.R. (In Russian.) Moscow,

    Acad. Sci. U.S.S.R., Moscow, 1937.

    17. ---- et al. General Cryopedology . (In Russian.) Moscow-Leningrad, Acad.

    Sci. U.S.S.R., 1940.

    18. Suslov, S. P. Physical Geography of the U.S.S.R. (In Russian.) State Peda–

    geologic Publication. Moscow-Leningrad, 1947.

    19. Taber, S. “Frost heaving,” Journ.Geol ., Vol.37, pp.428-44, 1929.

    20. ----. “Perennially frozen ground in Alaska; its origin and history,” Geol.

    Soc. of Am. Bull. , [ ?] vol.54, pp.1433-1548, 1943.

    21. ----. “Surface heaving caused by segregation of water forming ice crystals,”

    Eng. News-Record. vol.81, pp.683-84, 1918.

    22. Tsitovich, N.A., and Sumgin, M. I. Principles of Mechanics of Frozen Grounds.

    (In Russian.) Moscow, Acad. Sci. U.S.S.R., 1937.

    23. Tyrell, J. B. “Crystophenes of buried sheets of ice in the tundra of North

    America,” Journ.Geol ., vol.12, pp.232-36, 1904.


    C. C. Nikiforoff

    Soils of Alaska

    Unpaginated      |      Vol_VI-0527                                                                                                                  
    EA-Plant Sciences

    (Iver J. Nygard and A. C. Orvedal)




    Soil-Forming Factors 3
    Climate 3
    Vegetation 4
    Parent material 5
    Relief 5
    Age 6
    Great Soil Groups 6
    Tundra Soils 7
    Tundra with Permafrost 9
    Tundra without Permafrost 10
    Podsols 12
    Subarctic Brown Forest Soils 14
    Bog Soils 17
    Half-Bog 18
    Groundwater Podsol 20
    Mountain Tundra 21
    Alpine-Meadow Soils 23
    Alluvial Soils 24
    Lithosols and Regosols 25
    Distribution of Soils 25
    Map Unit 1 25
    Map Unit 2 26
    Map Unit 3 27
    Map Unit 4 27
    Map Unit 5 28
    Bibliography 29

    Unpaginated      |      Vol_VI-0528                                                                                                                  
    EA-Plant Sciences

    (Iver J. Nygard and A. C. Orvedal)



            With the manuscript of this article, the authors submitted 8

    photographs and 1 colored map for possible use as illustrations. Because

    of the high cost of reproducing them as halftones in the printed volume,

    only a small proportion of the photographs and maps submitted by contri–

    butors to Encyclopedia Arctica can be used, at most one or two with each

    paper; in some cases none. The number and selection must be determined

    later by the publisher and editors of Encyclopedia Arctica . Meantime

    all photographs and maps are being held at The Stefansson Library.

    001      |      Vol_VI-0529                                                                                                                  
    EA-Plant Sciences

    (Iver J. Nygard and A. C. Orvedal)



            The soils of Alaska — a vast area of 586,400 square miles — are

    comparatively unknown and await further studies, both exploratory and

    detailed. Exploratory surveys are needed to obtain a general knowledge

    of the soils of the Territory as a whole; detailed surveys should follow

    to provide precise information of specific localities, especially of

    those considered potentially useful for crops and pasture. This article

    is based upon recent information derived from field studies, laboratory

    examinations, and a review and interpretation of other geographic and

    soil researches in a monograph (3), in press in 1950, by Dr. Charles E.

    Kellogg and Dr. Iver J. Nygard, soil scientists in the U.S. Department

    of Agriculture.

            During the summer of 1946, exploratory investigations of the agricul–

    tural research needs of Alaska (4) were made by a group of technical

    employees of the Department of Agriculture. The field of soil science

    was represented by Dr. Charles E. Kellogg and Dr. Iver J. Nygard. In 1948

    a second trip was made by Dr. Nygard and Dr. Allan Mick, the latter of whom

    is now in charge of soil research for the Alaska Agricultural Experiment

    Station, organized that year. Members of the U.S. Geological Survey have

    been most helpful in the preparation of this paper, especially in compliling

    002      |      Vol_VI-0530                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Nygard and Orvedal: Soils of Alaska

    the soil association map.

            The main body of Alaska lies approximately between latitudes 60° and

    71° N. and longitudes 141° and 165° W. Only about one-third of it is

    situated north of the Arctic Circle, and still less is truly arctic in

    type. From the main body, two long arms extend far below the Arctic Circle,

    one comprising southeastern Alaska, and the other the Alaska Peninsula from

    which the Aleutian Islands continue as a thin chain into the Eastern


            Outside of the Matanuska Valley, and to a lesser extent the Fairbanks

    vicinity, exceedingly little land is used for agriculture. Consequently,

    there is a lack of farm-management experience for most of the many different

    kinds of soils in the Territory.

            Any estimate of the amount of land suitable for farming in Alaska ought

    to rest upon several considerations. Important among these are: ( 1 ) the

    location and size of land areas with the favorable combinations of soil

    and climate that are needed for crop production, and ( 2 ) the present state

    of agricultural arts and research with regard to Alaskan conditions. A

    knowledge of the response of soils to management is needed. Besides these

    requirements, the over-all economic outlook and population pressure in

    both Alaska and the mainland of the United States must be considered. One

    needs to recall that large areas of soils suitable for agriculture still

    exist in the States. In cognizance of these sets of considerations, Kellogg

    and Nygard (3) estimate that under anything like present economic conditions

    the total area of soils in Alaska suitable for crops is less than 1,000,000

    acres, probably much less. This figure does not include the larger acreages

    suitable for grazing; as summer grazing is plentiful, winter feeds will

    003      |      Vol_VI-0531                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Nygard and Orvedal: Soils of Alaska

    limit animal production. After seeding well-kept gardens in which hardy,

    cool-season vegetables grow luxuriantly under good husbandry, even far

    north of the Arctic Circle, one is apt to become overenthusiastic about

    farming possibilities. It must be remembered, however, that the choice of

    vegetable crops which will grow out-of-doors, even with the use of cold

    frames and hotbeds, is limited, and that the growing of more than hardy

    vegetables is needed to make a living in an expanding agriculture.


    Soil-Forming Factors

            Soils in Alaska, as everywhere else in the world, are a product of

    five genetic factors — climate, vegetation, parent material, relief, and

    age. In the following paragraphs each of the five factors will be considered

    in relation merely to Alaska.

            Climate varies considerably over the Territory. On most of the main–

    land, however, it is prevailingly frigid in winter and mild to cool in

    summer, with the average annual precipitation ranging from 5 to 12 inches.

    On the plains adjoining Bering Sea and the Arctic Sea, the temperature is

    lower in summer and higher in winter than in the interior, where extremes

    of 100°F. and −78°F. have been recorded. Fogs and strong winds are common

    on these plains but are uncommon in the interior. On the Aleutians and along

    the southern coast, including southeastern Alaska, average annual temperature

    and precipitation are much higher. Table 1 (5) shows some of the climatic

    elements for stations selected to represent different parts of the Territory.

    004      |      Vol_VI-0532                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Nygard and Orvedal: Soils of Alaska

    Table 1. Selected Climatic Data for Four Stations in Alaska .
    Station Average annual


    Average annual


    Months with



    above 32°F.
    Point Barrow

    (northern arctic

    4.23 10 3

    (interior subarctic

    11.71 24 5

    (southern Alaska)
    14.56 35 7
    Dutch Harbor

    (eastern Aleutian

    58.61 40.4 11

            Under the cold climate of most of mainland, especially the part

    north of the Arctic Circle, the soil at the surface remains frozen from

    one-half to three-fourths of the year; and below a depth ranging [ ?] from

    several inches to a few feet, the ground remains frozen all the time. This

    permanently frozen ground prevents downward percolation of water released by

    the surface soil when it thaws; and consequently, in northern Alaska in

    particular, the surface soil is prevailingly wet when thawed even though

    precipitation is low — indeed so low that, were this a temperate rather

    than a frigid region, dry desert conditions would prevail.

            Vegetation in northern Alaska is of the tundra type — with low shrubs,

    grasses, and sedges — commonly associated with arctic regions elsewhere.

    But this type of vegetation extends southward along the western coast and

    continues on across the Aleutian Islands, far from the true Arctic. Thin

    005      |      Vol_VI-0533                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Nygard and Orvedal: Soils of Alaska

    forests, mainly coniferous ones, similar to the taiga forests of the

    Soviet Union, prevail below approximately 2,300 feet in the Fairbanks

    area of interior Alaska. Above this elevation the vegetation is of various

    forms of tundra, trees being generally absent. Dense forests of large trees,

    mainly coniferous ones, dominate southern Alaska from sea level to elevations

    of some 2,000 feet, and in southeastern Alaska to higher latitudes near 3,000

    feet. Throughout much of Alaska, some kind of rough fibrous organic mat

    forms an insulating cover to the soils. More information on vegetation is

    given in the discussion of the various great soil groups.

            Parent material in most of [ ?] the nonmountainous parts of Alaska

    consists wholly or partly of coarse silt and very fine sand that occur as

    loesslike materials in the uplands and as alluvian on the flood plains.

    Outside the flood plains, the coarse silt forms a blanket ranging in thick–

    ness from as little as one inch to as much as a hundred feet or even more.

    It is thinnest on the hills and ridges and thickest in the valleys. Where

    it is thicker than approximately three feet, it alone forms the parent

    material. Where it is thinner, it forms the parent material for the upper

    part of the soil, and whatever is below — usually water-deposited sand and

    gravel or stony residuum from bedrock — forms the parent material for

    the lower part.

            In the mountainous parts of Alaska, silt is a negligible parent

    material. Here disintegrated bedrock forms the principal parent material,

    but even this is only a few inches thick on most mountain slopes.

            Relief indirectly modifies the effect of vegetation and climate, which

    in their turn directly affect g t soil formation. With it are associated

    drainage and erosion. This relief, or lay-of-the-land, varies from the

    006      |      Vol_VI-0534                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Nygard and Orvedal: Soils of Alaska

    precipitous slopes of Brooks Range, Alaska Range, and others to the nearly

    lev a e l plains, terraces, lowlands, and basins along the coasts and rivers.

    Mountainous or near-mountainous areas, however, are more extensive than

    plains. Innumerable ponds and small lakes are a distinctive feature of

    nearly all Alaskan plains (Fig. 1). Microrelief, consisting of low mounds

    separated by depressions, further characterizes the tundra plains (Fig. 2).

            Age of soils in Alaska varies, but most of them are “young” in the

    sense that they have undergone but little horizon differentiation and lack

    well-defined profiles. Soil formation has been slow on the high mountains

    and in other extremely cold parts of Alaska, also in gravelly, cobbly, and

    rubbly parent material in the warmer parts.


    Great Soil Groups

            Alaska, like any other vast region, has many different combinations of

    the five soil-forming factors. As each significant combination of these gives

    rise [ ?] to its own type of soil with an individual set of characteristics,

    many different kinds of soils have naturally developed.

            A soil can be defined only as a combination of internal and external

    characteristics. Internal characteristics of a soil are studied through

    its profiles, and external characteristics through its related natural

    landscape. Narrowly defined sets of characteristics are called “soil types.”

    These may be grouped into broadly defined “great soil groups” (1). Examples

    of soil types are described in this article, but they are discussed as

    representatives of the great soil group to which they belong. The great

    soil groups of Alaska (3) are listed as follows, the categories zonal,

    intrazonal, and azonal being explained in references (1) and (3):

    007      |      Vol_VI-0535                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Nygard and Orvedal: Soils of Alaska

            A. Zonal

            1. Tundra

            a. With permafrost

    b. Without permafrost

            2. Podsol

            B. Intrazonal

            1. Subarctic brown forest

    2. Bog

    3. Half-bog

    4. Groundwater Podsol

    5. Mountain tundra

    6. Alpine meadow

            C. Azonal

            1. Alluvial

            a. From general alluvium

    b. From local alluvium

            2. Lithosol

            3. Regosol

            Tundra Soils . Tundra soils are characterized by a tough, fibrous,

    organic mat on the surface which is underlain by a few inches of dark-colored,

    humus-rich material that merges into light-colored, gray or mottled soil

    beneath. This extends into permafrost or to the unaltered parent rock.

    The organic (A oo and A o and A 1 ) horizons are rather distinct from the lower

    mineral (B and G) horizons. The B . H h orizon, on the other hand, generally

    merges with the G (gleyed) horizon which in turn grades into the C or

    slightly altered parent material. Wherever they have been examined in summer,

    008      |      Vol_VI-0536                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Nygard and Orvedal: Soils of Alaska

    these soils have always been s w et at some depth and, in most places, at

    the surface. Largely because of the long periods of freezing and water–

    logging, little leaching and eluviation have taken place, but some soil

    material has been transported from one horizon to another or mixed by

    pressures on the saturated, thawed horizons during freezing that occurs

    in the late fall and early winter. Because of low temperatures, the

    physical processes of weathering and soil formation dominate over the

    chemical processes.

            Even though tundra soils have always been wet when examined, they do

    have a considerable range in drainage condit i on, and a succession of plant

    associations from wetter to drier soils has been noted in enough places

    to make a few preliminary generalizations. On the wettest soils several

    different species of sedges, including tussocky cotton grasses ( Eriophorum spp.),

    grow well in mixtures of other grasslike plants, mosses, lichens, her v b aceous

    plants, dwarf woody plants, and creepers. On less [ ?] wet soils, mixtures

    of dwarf heathy shrubs, lichens, and mosses dominate over sedges; and

    on the least wet soils, which also are generally shallow, are patches of

    Dryas , grasses (such as Poa and Festuca spp.), certain species of sedges

    ( Carex Carex ), and other herbaceous plants. Associated with the tundra soils

    are innumerable ponds in which grow algae and other aquatic plants, with

    scattered patches of floating or submerged plants, the most frequent of

    which appear to be pondweeds ( Potamogeton spp.), At the margin of these

    ponds are water-tolerant sedges, and on slightly higher, less moist places

    are horsetails ( Equisetum spp.) and bluejoint ( Calamagrosti a s canadensis )

    that grow with the sedges.

            In addition to the plants already named, dwarf shrubs and prostrate

    009      |      Vol_VI-0537                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Nygard and Orvedal: Soils of Alaska

    woody [ ?] plants are numerous. Willows ( Salix spp.) and alder ( Alnus crispa )

    grow on moist soils. Dwarf shrubs most commonly observed in the arctic

    tundra are a birch ( Betula nana ) and two dwarfish heaths, narrow-leaved

    Labrador tea ( Ledum palustre ) and a blueberry ( Vaccinium uliginosum ).

    Two species of raspberry, arctic bramble ( Rubus arcticus ) and baked-apple

    or cloudberry ( Rubus chamaemorus ), are also common.

            Permafrost is not necessarily a characteristic of tundra soils,

    although those with permafrost are many times more extensive than those

    without. Its distribution in these soils is brought out in the two broad

    subgroups: one with permafrost, representing the cold extreme, the other

    without it, representing the warm extreme.

            Tundra with Permafrost . In Alaska, tundra with permafrost is found

    in the cold, lake-dotted, treeless plains bordering the Arctic Sea and the

    northern Bering Sea. The largest area occupies the arctic coastal plain.

    Where these soils were examined at Point Barrow, they have a characteristic

    microrelief with flattened, raised “polygons” separated by more heavily

    vegetated shallow troughs about 2 feet lower than the high parts (Fig. 2).

    The raised portion is partly bare and partly covered with lichens, prostrate

    willows with branches some 3 or 4 inches long, sedges, and other plants.

    Grasses growing in this area are Poa arctica , P. alpina , P. pratensis ,

    Festuca sp., Agrostis sp., and Calamagrostis .sp. The low parts between

    the polygons have a dense sod of sedges with some mosses. Two profiles,

    the first from the high part, the second from the low part, are described

    in Table I.

    010      |      Vol_VI-0538                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Nygard and Orvedal: Soils of Alaska

    Table I. Profile Characteristics of Tundra with Permafrost .
    Horizon Depth, inches Description
    High part
    [ ?] 00 1 to 0 Intermittent mat of roots and stems
    A 11 0 to 3 Dark grayish-brown and dark reddish–

    brown silty loam, rich in humus and

    with many fine roots
    A 12 3 to 11 Dark grayish-brown and dark reddish–

    brown silty loam, rich in humus and

    with few living roots; cold on

    July 12, 1946
    B to G 11 to 12 Upper part of solidly frozen layer of

    very dark brown to black silty loam,

    rich in humus, and mottled and streaked

    with nearly white ice
    Low part
    A 00 1 to 0 Mat of roots and stems
    A 1 and A 0 0 to 3 Dark reddish-brown silt filled with

    roots to form a turf
    B to G 3 to 9 Mottled grayish-brown and very dark

    brown silty loam, rich in organic

    matter; solidly frozen below 9 inches

    July 12, 1946

            Laboratory data on these soils indicate considerable variations in both

    texture and organic matter. The high values for base-exchange capacity and

    exchangeable hydrogen follow closely the organic matter content. Available

    phosphorous is very low, at least judging by standards in the continental

    United States (3).

            Tundra without Permafrost . Tundra soils without permafrost are found

    in the uniformly cool climate of the Aleutian Island chain and the adjacent

    011      |      Vol_VI-0539                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Nygard and Orvedal: Soils of Alaska

    western t r ip of the Alaska Peninsula, where they are associated with the

    wetter bog and half-bog soils and the steeper, shallower and drier lithosols.

    Near Cold Bay at the tip of the Alaska Peninsula, these soils occupy gently

    undulating plains, alluvial fans, and foot slopes. They freeze each winter

    to depths of 4 to 5 feet, but thaw out during the summer. The surface has

    a regular microrclif with mounds 3 to 7 feet across and 6 inches to 2 feet

    high. An example of this broad soil group was examined (see Table II) on

    a gently undulating plain under a cover of crowberry, dwarf willows, sedges,

    Dryas , and various grasses and mosses (Fig. 3). It has developed from volcanic

    ash reworked by water, the ash overl a ying water-laid gravel.

    Table II. Profile Characteristics of Tundra without Permafrost .
    Horizon Depth, inches Description
    A 00 3 to 2 Mat of living moss and roots
    A 0 2 to 0 Dark reddish-brown peaty mat
    A 1 0 to 2 1/3 1/2 Dark reddish-brown, very fine sandy loam,

    softly and finely granular
    B 10 2 1/2 to 12 Dark reddish-brown, silty, very fine,

    sandy loam; slightly compact, but

    granular and friable; some roots
    B 11 12 to 32
    C 32 to 36 Reddish-brown and brown friable loam

    that rubs to a slick smear
    D 48 Gravel

            Morphological and analytical data on this soil profile and others [ ?]

    belonging to this broad group from the Aleutian Islands — Adak, Shemya,

    012      |      Vol_VI-0540                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Nygard and Orvedal: Soils of Alaska

    Amchitka, Umnak, and Dutch Harbor — reported upon in detail by Kellogg

    and Nygard (3) — indicate a characteristically low clay content in relation

    to silt and very fine sand. The base-exchange capacity i n s high because

    of the high content of organic matter; exchangeable hydrogen and acidity

    are also high. The base status and available phosphorous are low to

    exceedingly low. Mineral plant nutrients — calcium, magnesium, manganese,

    potassium, and phosphorus — are highest at the surface, indicating a

    concentration due to plants. The carbon-nitrogen ratios are relatively

    wide, as are those in peat soils.

            Podsols . These are often expected to be the normal soil of the boreal

    forest, but actually well-developed podsols with prominent gene g t ic horizons

    are here comparatively scarce. The subarctic brown forest soils, instead

    of podsols, dominate the well-drained positions. More frequently inter–

    mingled with the subarctic brown forest soil d s are weakly developed podsols

    that are transitional between the well-developed podsols and the subarctic

    brown forest soils.

            The farthest north that podsol soils have been observed in Alaska are

    two small spots in the Yukon-Tanana upland, one being about 35 miles north

    of Fairbanks and the other just east of Circle Hot Springs. The podsol

    north of Fairbanks occupies a gently rolling upland covered with a second–

    growth white birch, aspen, and a few spruce, with an undergrowth of

    blueberry, Labrador tea, and a few alders. The podsol east of Circle

    Hot Springs lies on an undulating plain covered with a thick stand of

    young aspen, from 3 to 8 feet high, along with a few young white spruce

    and a ground cover of crowberry, mountain cranberry, and lichens. A

    description of the podsol observed near Circle Hot Springs is given in Table III.

    013      |      Vol_VI-0541                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Nygard and Orvedal: Soils of Alaska

    Table III. Profile Characteristics of a Podsol.
    Horizon Depth, inches Description
    A 00 2 to 1 Nearly fresh leaves and twigs
    A 0 1 to 0 Dark reddish-brown fibrous root and

    leaf mat containing mycorrhzo ya l

    mycelium and charcoal; pH 4.8
    A 1 Exceedingly thin, very dark-brown

    humus soil; nearly about absent in

    some places
    A 2 0 to 2 Light gray, ashy, fine sandy loam

    containing many roots; weakly developed

    platy structure; slightly vesicular;

    ranges from less than 1/2 to 3 inches

    thick; pH 4.3
    B 1 2 to 5 Light yellowish-brown, silt loam, with

    many roots; weakly developed mixed

    subangular blocky and platy structure;

    easily friable; a few pebbles; pH 5.0
    B 2 5 to 11 Reddish-brown, brown, and yellowish–

    brown loam, with few roots; weakly

    developed fine subangular blocky structure;

    easily friable; many pebbles, mainly of

    gneiss and quartzite; soil is slightly

    cemented; horizon boundaries and thick–

    ness are irregular; pH 4.8
    C 11 to 18 Light yellowish-brown, gravelly sandy

    loam; loose and porous; ph 5.4

            Like other podsols of the Far North, this soil is hallow, the thickness

    of the solum ranging from 6 to 20 inches. Morphological and analytical data

    suggest moderate podsolization. Ferric oxide appears to have moved into

    the B . hori zon. The organic carbon and nitrogen decrease with depth, and

    the organic mat is raw in the surface A horizon and fairly well decomposed

    in the B, with carbon-nitrogen ratios of 32 and 14, respectively.

    014      |      Vol_VI-0542                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Nygard and Orvedal: Soils of Alaska

            Podsols having the best-developed profiles in Alaska were found in

    the upper Susitna Valley of the Cook Inlet lowlands. Several types with

    prominent genetic horizons lie on high sandy and gravelly terraces and

    eskers. One of the profiles is shown in Figure 4. In several types the

    B horizon is enriche s d with both humus and iron oxide, and its base-exhange

    capacity is several times that of the A 2 horizon. These soils are extremely

    acid, and very low in base saturation. Moderately developed podsols are

    common in the Anchorage and Knik areas, where they have developed mainly

    from fine sandy outwash materials.

            Subarctic Brown Forest Soils . These are characterized by a tough,

    fibrous, organic mat at the surface which is underlain by several inches

    of a brown surface mine d r al horizon that merges through gradual transition

    of brown, reddish-brown, and yellowish-brown, mottled with pale brown and

    light gray, to the parent material which extends down to the unaltered parent

    rock or [ ?] permafrost. Even where they are not underlain by permafrost,

    the lower horizons are cold and contain few or no roots. The soils are

    unleached, except in the surface, and are low in clay content in relations

    to silt and sand. Like podsols, they have acid organic layers (A 00 and A 0 )

    on the surface, but lack the ashy gray A 2 horizon which is characteristic

    of the podsols.

            Subarctic brown forest soil d s appear to occupy a stage of immaturity

    before the development of podsols. Whether they will in time become podsols

    is not know n , as they seem to be reasonably stable under the boreal forest

    of Alaska. They are of greater agricultural importance than other rather

    widespread soils, because many of them, though by no means all, are potentially

    suitable for farming (Fig. 5). A serious problem in their use, however, is

    015      |      Vol_VI-0543                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Nygard and Orvedal: Soils of Alaska

    caused by permafrost. Under cultivation, this tends to disappear, causing

    caves, gullies, and other rough surfaces due to melting of ice blocks in

    the [ ?] substratum (Fig. 6).

            Subarctic brown forest soils have developed in the subarctic where

    the climate is colder than in the parts of North America where pod o sols

    are widespread. There is, however, considerable overlapping of climatic

    limits, and hence in some parts of Alaska both pod o sols and subarctic Brown

    forest soils have developed under the same climate. Subarctic brown forest

    soils occur [ ?] outh and east of the region of tundra soils, merging with the

    tundra in places. Excellent examples can be seen north of Fairbanks, on

    well-drained valley slopes, terraces, and low ridges. A representative

    type is located on the Agricultural Experiment Station near Fairbanks, on

    a gentle south-facing slope. Part of this soil type is cultivated and part

    is under a plant cover of white spruce, white birch, and aspen trees, 25 to

    50 feet high, with an undergrowth of tall blueberry, wild rose, horsetail,

    mountain cranberry, and a few mosses. A description of a subarctic brown

    forest soil is given in Table IV.

    016      |      Vol_VI-0544                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Nygard and Orvedal: Soils of Alaska

    Table IV. Profile Characteristics of Subarctic Brown Forest Soil.
    Horizon Depth, inches Description
    A 0 2 to 0 Dark reddish-brown, fibrous organic mat of

    leaves, needles, twigs, mosses, and roots;

    lower portion is partly disintegrated;

    pH 6.6
    A 11 0 to 3 Brown, very fine sandy loam, rich in organic

    matter; weakly developed crumb structures;

    very friable; many living roots and a few

    worm casts and mycorrhizal mycelia; pH 6.0
    A 3 3 to 5 Yellowish-brown, very find sandy loam,

    slightly specked with light grayish-brown;

    very weakly developed fine platy structure;

    very friable; slightly vesicular; many

    living roots; pH 6.0
    B 11 5 to 10 Yellowish-brown, very fine sandy loam, specked

    with yellowish-red; weakly developed fine

    platy structure; micaceous; compact in

    place, but easily friable when removed;

    many living roots; pH 6.1
    B 12 10 to 18 Light yellowish-brown and light olive-brown,

    very fine sandy loam, slightly mottled with

    olive; weakly developed fine platy structure;

    compact in place, but friable when removed;

    few roots; highly micaceous; pH 6.4
    C 1 18 to 28 Pale-yellow, very fine sandy loam, mottled with

    yellowish-red and yellowish-brown; friable;

    highly micaceous; slightly laminated with few

    small dark spots between laminations; pH 6.1
    C 2 28 to 45 Light brownish-gray, very fine sandy loam;

    highly micaceous; laminated; pH 6.5

            Representative types in this broad soil group have been found in many

    other parts of the Territory, particularly in areas where agricultural use

    is made of the land. Such sites are on gravelly terraces at Big Delta, on

    terraces and sandy old alluvium near Circle and Circle Hot Springs, on glacial

    017      |      Vol_VI-0545                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Nygard and Orvedal: Soils of Alaska

    moraines, in old lake-settling basins, and on old alluvium between Chitina

    and McCarthy, on Sourdough Ridge and high river terraces near McCarty, and

    in the Upper Matanuska Valley near Palmer.

            Bog Soils . Bog soils, locally termed “muskeg,” consist chiefly of

    organic matter in a more or less decomposed state. The relatively raw

    material is called peat, and the more thoroughly decomposed material, muck,

    though it should be noted that in some parts of Alaska, especially at

    Fairbanks, the term “muck” has long been used by miners for beds of silty

    organic matter and for the silty organic residues in placer mining.

            Bog soils are found in all parts of Alaska in lowlands, in seepage

    areas, and even on moderate slopes with underlying permafrost or hard rocks.

    The succession of plants from ponds to quaking mat, and thenc d e to relatively

    dry land where trees have encroached, was observed in may parts of the

    Territory. The moist, cool Pacific coastal climate is especially favorable

    to the formation of these soils. Here they are found on rather strong slopes.

    Deep peat bogs appear to be less widespread in the coldest arctic region and

    on very high mountains. Dachnowski-Stokes has studied some of these soils,

    particularly from a botanical viewpoint (2).

            Alaska has many types of bog soils similar to those in the northern

    Lake States. In addition there are comparable soils in other parts of the

    world. For example, the bog soils in the tidal basins are similar to those

    developed in salt-water marshes along the Pacific coast. These soils are

    neutral to alkaline in reaction, being high in bases. At the other extreme

    are the soils of “raised” bogs or “high moors,” which resemble those that

    are so common in N northern Europe, having a cover of Sphagnum moss peat

    and Sphagnum mosses built up to a height of several feet near the center.

    018      |      Vol_VI-0546                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Nygard and Orvedal: Soils of Alaska

    They are strongly to extremely acid, and very low in mineral plant nutri a e nts.

    On these bog soils the growing mosses get few nutrients apart from those

    carried in the rain water and those available in the underlying peat.

            One of the more common types of bog soil s in the Anchorage area is,

    like the Greenwood peat of the northern Lake States, one of the rawest of

    the bog soils in its vicinity. Because of its rawness, extreme acidity,

    and low content of lime and other plant nutrients, it is not recommended

    for agricultural use. A description is given in Table V.

    Table V. Characteristics of Bog Soil.
    Depth, inches Description Z
    0 to 12 Mixed living and dead Sphagnum and many roots

    and rootstocks from woody plants and sedges
    12 to 40 Reddish-brown and yellowish-brown, fibrous,

    sedge peat, very slightly decomposed;

    spongy; matted; frozen in the lower part
    40 + Dark-brown moss peat grading into sedimentary


            Half-Bog . Half-bog soils, in comparison with bog soils, have thin peaty

    and mucky horizons; but even in half-bogs these may be as much as a foot in

    thickness. They overlie gray mineral soil (gley) that is wet during all or

    a large part of the time (Fig. 7). Half-bog soils, like bog soils, occur

    in poorly drained places.

            Half-bog soils are found in all climatic regions of Alaska and are among

    the most widespread soils in the interior. Here they occur under plant covers

    of sparse to medium stands of scrubby white or black spruce and an undergrowth

    of dwarf birch and dwarf heathy shrubs. Willows and alder are dominant on some

    019      |      Vol_VI-0547                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Nygard and Orvedal: Soils of Alaska

    types, and larch (tamarack) on others. The ground cover consists, for the

    most part, of peat-forming mosses, especially Sphagnum spp., along with

    lichens, several very dwarf heathy shrubs, creepers, and horsetails. Some

    are under open stands of sedges, grasses, and dwarf shrubs.

            In the Fairbanks area several types of half-bog soils occur on alluvial

    bottom lands and low terraces in the lower Tanana Valley and in the Chena

    Slough, a channel of the Tanana River. Subarctic brown forest soils occupy

    the better-drained terraces and valley slopes, and bog soils the wetter,

    ponded areas. A common type of half-bog soil is described in Table VI.

    Table VI. Profile Characteristics of a Half-Bog Soil.
    Horizon Depth, inches Description
    A 0 5 to 0 Brown moss peat, impregnated with roots of

    woody plants and silt particles; also a

    few bits of charcoal
    G 1 0 to 5 Gray and grayish-brown, very fine sandy

    loam, mottled with pale-yellow and

    reddish-brown; compact in place, but very

    friable when removed; weakly developed

    platy structure
    C 1 5 to 13 Gray and light-gray, silty very fine sand;

    very friable
    C 2 13 to 24 + Light-gray and very pale-yellow, silty very

    fine sand; laminated; micaceous
    35 Frozen layer on July 1, 1946

            The profile described in Table VI was under a native cover of a moderately

    thick stand of spruce, 3 to 20 feet high, along with a few aspen and willows,

    and an undergrowth of blueberry, Labrador tea, crowberry, mountain cranberry,

    and many mosses and lichens. Sphagnum mosses dominated the ground cover, but

    020      |      Vol_VI-0548                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Nygard and Orvedal: Soils of Alaska

    Polytrichum and occasional Hypnum species were also present. This profile,

    like others examined, shows that vegetation has had a great influence on the

    surface horizons but not on the lower ones.

            Many other types of half-bog soils were found in other parts of the

    central valley and plateau through which the Yukon, Tanana, Kuskokwim, and

    other rivers flow, and furthermore in the Copper Center basin, where they

    also predominate, and in the Cook Inlet lowlands.

            Groundwater Podsol . Groundwater podsols are developed under the

    influence of a high and fluctuating water table which produce d s alternate

    wet and dry conditions in summer. They resemble “humus” podsols in which

    the B horizon is enriched with both humus and iron oxide.

            Many different types of these soils occur in the Cook Inlet lowlands,

    where they are associated with podsols and bog soils. In the Talkeetna

    Mountains, variations within this soil group are found as high as the timber

    line (about 3,000 feet) or higher.

            A good example of a groundwater p e o dsol can be observed east of Willow

    Station on the Alaska Railroad (see Table VII). The plant cover here is like

    that of many bog and half-bog soils, consisting as it does of scrubby black

    spruce with a thick undergrowth of blueberry, crowberry, mountain cranberry,

    many species of mosses, dwarf dogwood, and a dwarf Rubus .

    021      |      Vol_VI-0549                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Nygard and Orvedal: Soils of Alaska

    Table VII. Profile Characteristics of Groundwater Podsol Soil.
    Horizon Depth, inches Description
    A 00 9 to 5 Light brownish-gray peaty mat of living

    and dead Sphagnum mosses, roots, and

    rhizomes; pH 3.5
    A 0 5 to 0 Yellowish-brown, raw, spongy Sphagnum peat;

    pH 4.0
    A 1 0 to 1/2 Dark-brown mucky silt; weakly developed fine

    granular structure; pH 4.0
    A 21 1/2 to 2 Light grayish-brown loamy, very fine sand;

    weakly developed fine platy structure; very

    friable; very irregular in thickness;

    pH 4.0
    A 22 2 to 2 1/2 Light-gray loamy, very fine sand; very

    friable; pH 4.0
    B 21 2 1/2 to 5 Dark reddish-brown, fine sandy loam; weakly

    developed fine granular structure; granules

    are soft when moist; roots abundant; soil

    has accumulated humus; pH 4.5
    B 22 5 to 7 Reddish-brown, fine sandy loam; weakly

    developed fine granular structure; granules

    are harsh when dry; very weakly cemented
    B 31 7 to 12 Yellowish-red, medium-to-fine sand; weakly

    developed platy structure; pH 6.0
    B 32 12 to 18 Strong brown, medium-to-fine sand
    CG 18 to 28 Light olive-gray, loamy fine sand; pH 5.5

            Mountain Tundra . Mountain tundra soils and their native plant cover are

    similar to the tundra soils previously described. The plant species inhabiting

    these soils are not only stunted and prostrate but matted. Many dwarf shrubs

    (predominantly heaths), mosses, lichens, and sedges, are the most common,

    forming acid organic layers.

    022      |      Vol_VI-0550                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Nygard and Orvedal: Soils of Alaska

            These soils occupy high parts of mountains, above the timber line,

    in inaccessible areas where they are not likely to be much observed. They

    may be seen in several places on the Tanana-Yukon upland between Fairbanks

    and Circle, in Mount McKinley National Park, and in the Talkeetna Mountains.

    Several types grade into half-bog soils, as does the mountain-tundra soil

    described in Table V III; it was observed on Twelve [?] M mile Summit on the Tanana–

    Yukon upland:

    Table VIII. Profile Characteristics of Mountain Tundra.
    Horizon Depth, inches Description
    A 00 and A 0 3 1/2 to 0 Dark reddish-brown, fibrous moss peat and

    living Sphagum ; pH 4.3
    A 1 0 to 5 Reddish-brown moss peat, moderately well

    disintegrated and containing many tough

    woody roots; pH 4.5
    BG 5 to 10 Olive loam, slightly mottled with light

    yellowish-brown; contains grit ; , pebbles ; ,

    flakes of mica, and many roots; somewhat

    sticky when wet and dries to weak irregu–

    lar blocks and flakes; pH 4.9
    C 1 10 to 12 Brown loam, containing many fragments of

    micaceous schist; pH 4.9
    12 + Similar to horizon C, but frozen in July, 1946

    and containing a greater proportion of schist

            This soil occupies the top of a high ridge of micaceous schist. The

    plant cover consists of a thick mat of Sphagnum mosses and many lichens along

    with dwarf birch, dwarf and prostrate willows, blueberry, crowberry, a a Ledum ,

    mountain cranberry, and a few cotton grasses. Caribou graze on this vegetation

    in summer.

    023      |      Vol_VI-0551                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Nygard and Orvedal: Soils of Alaska

            Alpine-Meadow Soils . These superficially look like a wet prairie soil

    in that the soil horizons are poorly defined and the surface A horizon is

    high in well-decomposed organic matter that very gradually diminishes with

    depth. These soils generally are covered with a thin organic mat (less than

    2 inches) beneath which is a humus-rich surface mineral horizon that is dark

    brown or some shade of brown fading downward to dark grayish-brown, brown,

    and grayish-brown, and generally streaked with high contrasting colors in

    the lower part of the solum.

            Alpine- k m eadow soils occur above the timber line at greater altitudes and

    on steeper and drier slopes than the mountain tundra and half-bog soils.

    Lithosols are common associates. The native cover of alpine-meadow soils

    consists, for the most part, of herbaceous plants of which Dryas , certain

    sedges, lichens, grasses, and many flowering plants are characteristic. The

    mosses present are, in general, not the peat-forming type of Sphagnum found

    on mountain tundra and half bog soils. Alpine-meadow soils were observed

    in the Talkeetna Mountains and in Mount McKinley National Park.

    i I n the Talkeetnas, mound microrelief was also observed (Fig. 8). An alpine–

    meadow soil on a high mountain east of Camp E u i elson in Mount McKinley National

    Park is described in Table IX.

    024      |      Vol_VI-0552                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Nygard and Orvedal: Soils of Alaska

    Table IX. Profile Characteristics of an Alpine-Meadow Soil.
    Horizon Depth, inches Description
    A o 2 to 0 Dark reddish-brown, fibrous organic and

    root mat; pH 6.0
    A 1 0 to 4 Dark reddish-brown and dark grayish-brown

    loam, weakly developed fine granular structure;

    many fine roots; pH 5.6
    B 1 4 to 10 Dark yellowish-brown loam; weakly developed

    granular structure, the granules are soft and

    mellow; very friable; several fine roots;

    pH 5.6
    B 2 10 to 24 Dark yellowish-brown loam, streaked with

    black and pale yellow; irregular granular

    structure; easily friable; few roots; pH 5.4
    C 24 Gray si is h-brown, dark-gray, and light yellowish–

    brown, gravelly, sandy loam; many quartzite

    and few rhyolite pebbles; easily dug; pH 5.8

            In this soil it is noted that the content of organic matter is high at

    the surface but diminishes with depth. In comparison with tundra soils, the

    organic matter is more highly decomposed, the alkaline status is higher, and

    the acidity lower.

            Alluvial Soils. These are d[ ?] derived from such freshly deposited

    alluvium that few, if any, effects of vegetation and climate can be seen in

    the soil profile. Many of these soils continue to receive additional sedi–

    ments during flood periods.

            Alluvial soils occur in many placed throughout Alaska. They occupy

    flood plains, where they are formed from general alluvium. They also occupy

    variously shaped areas in deltas, coves, and along lower valley slopes, where

    they are formed largely from local alluvium. Although in the aggregate

    025      |      Vol_VI-0553                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Nygard and Orvedal: Soils of Alaska

    these soils do not make up a large area, they are agriculturally important.

    Those that are fairly well drained, not subject to frequent flooding, and

    not too stony, are generally well suited for gardens and pastures, provided

    the local climate is not too severe. Favorable local climates occur in

    spots that benefit from the maximum amount of sunshine and warm air, and

    are found on the lower parts of south-facing slopes.

            Lithosols and Regosols . Lithosols consist mainly of hard rock with

    or without thin, irregular coverings of rubbly soils material. Alaska has

    many large and small areas of these thin, rocky soils. They occupy much

    of the high mountain terrain, many of the steep slopes of hills, and some

    of the gentle slopes of mountains and hills that are excessively rubbly.

            Regosols are soft or unconsolidated materials, with or without a thin,

    irregular covering of soil material. Like lithosols they have scarcely any

    pedogenic soil; but they are not stony, and roots can easily find a foothold.

    Regosols occupy small areas throughout Alaska. They include relatively

    fresh morainic debris left by retreating glaciers, beach sands, fresh wind-laid

    deposits, volcanic ash, and cinders.


    Distribution of Soils

            The following paragraphs describe Figure 9, which shows the distribution

    of associations of great soil groups in Alaska, and important permafrost

    boundaries. The permafrost lines and parts of the boundaries of soil

    associations are based upon published and unpublished data furnished by

    the U.S. Geological Survey.

            Map Unit 1 shows the principal areas of tundra soils. These soils occupy

    the low coastal plains along the Arctic Sea and Bering Sea, where innumerable

    ponds and lakes (Fig. 1 ) are associated with them.

    026      |      Vol_VI-0554                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Nygard and Orvedal: Soils of Alaska

    Elsewhere, north and south of Brooks Range and northwest and northeast of

    Alaska Range, the tundra soils lie at higher elevations — on top of hills

    and low mountains — and have associated with them, for the most part,

    lithosols. Other associates are alluvial, bog, half-bog, regosol, and

    subarctic brown forest soils. Except for alluvial soils, which are present

    in small percentages in all areas, these associated great soil groups occur

    with tundra soils south of Brooks Range.

            North of Brooks Range, permafrost is everywhere present near the surface

    of the tundra soils. Elsewhere it is absent locally, and on the south side

    of Bristol Bay may be absent altogether.

            Areas of Map Unit 1 are generally unsuitable for agriculture, at least for

    the kinds practice s d in temperate regions. The soils provide grazing for

    reindeer and caribou, and can best be utilized for the production of these

    hardy animals, as well as musk oxen and possibly yak.

            Map Unit 2 includes mainly half - bog and subarctic brown forest soils,

    but minor associates are alluvial, bog, and podsol soils. The soil association

    occupies low, flat, lake-dotted alluvial plains and terraces in which are

    intermingled a few hills. The half-bog, bog, and alluvial soils lie in

    the f lowest, wettest places, in the alluvial bottom lands in particular,

    whereas subarctic brown forest soils and the few podsols occupy the higher,

    better-drained uplands.

            Permafrost is generally present, although it is locally absent in many

    places, especially along rivers. In the vicinity of Cook Inlet, however,

    it is absent over most areas.

            The subarctic brown forest soils in general, and some alluvial and

    half-bog soils, are suitable for agriculture. They may be utilized to the

    027      |      Vol_VI-0555                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Nygard and Orvedal: Soils of Alaska

    best advantage for hardy, short-season crops, and for meadows and pastures.

    Following clearing, the surface of some of them may subside i d r regularly

    owing to melting of ice blocks in the substratum — thereby producing a

    surface so uneven that the soils become difficult or impossible to cultivate.

            Map Unit 3 consists mainly of subarctic brown forest soils on foothills,

    and piedmont and river terraces, the terraces usually having a silty surface

    and a gravelly substratum. Associated with these soils are half-bog and

    bog soils in depressions and valleys, alluvial soils along streams, podsols

    on terraces, and mountain tundra on included high hills and low mountains.

            Permafrost is generally present, except around Cook Inlet lowlands;

    but it is either absent or at least several feet beneath the surface in

    many places, especially on south-facing slopes.

            Most of the agriculture in Alaska, including that in Matanuska Valley

    and the vicinity of Fairbanks, is on the subarctic brown forest soils of

    this association. Several of the podsol, alluvial, and half-bog soils

    are also arable. Hardy vegetables, including potatoes, quick-maturing small

    grains, and grasses can be grown.

            Map Unit 4 , which includes the large mountainous areas, consists

    mainly of lithosols with considerable tundra and many minor [ ?] oil associates.

    Among these are alpine meadow, bog, half-bog, alluvial, regosol, podsol,

    groundwater podsol, and subarctic brown forest soils. Most of the minor

    associates are absent in the Brooks Range but occupy many small areas in

    the southern mountains. In the Alaska and Coast ranges, glaciers and

    permanent snow fields are conspicuous inclusions.

            Permafrost is present nearly everywhere in the northern areas and in

    many places in the southern areas, although it is absent on the Aleutians,

    028      |      Vol_VI-0556                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Nygard and Orvedal: Soils of Alaska

    on Kodiak and adjacent islands, and on the mainland off the Pacific Ocean.

            The areas are considered unsuitable for agriculture, but summer

    grazing is feasible in parts of the southern mountains. Small areas,

    some only large enough for a tiny garden, are capable of producing food

    for people engaged in activities other than farming.

            Ma y p Unit 5 , which occupie d s a narrow strip along the irregular coast

    of southeastern Alaska, consists mainly of regosol, bog, alluvial soils,

    and lithosols, with small areas of half-bog and podsol soils. Apart from

    lithosols, the soils lie on low valley slopes, alluvial bottom lands,

    deltas, and narrow coastal beaches. Permafrost is absent. Small scattered

    areas are suitable for vegetable gardening, a few small fruits, and some


    029      |      Vol_VI-0557                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Nygard and Orvedal: Soils of Alaska


    1. Baldwin, Mark, Kellogg, C.E. a [ ?] n d Thorp, James. “Soil classification,”

    U. S. Dept. of Agriculture. Soils & Men. Yearbook of

    Agriculture . Wash., G.P.O., 1938, pp.979-1001.

    2. Dachnowski-Stokes, A.P. Peat Resources in Alaska Peat Resources in Alaska . Wash, Dept. of

    Agriculture, 1941. The Dept. Tech.Bull. no.769.

    3. Kellogg, C.E., and Nygard, I.J. Exploratory Study of the Principal

    Soil Groups of Alaska . U.S. Dept.Agric. Monograph no.7.

    (In press)

    4. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture. Report on Exploratory Investigations of

    Agricultural Problems of Alaska . Wash., G.P.O., 1949.

    The Dept. Misc.Publ . no.700.

    5. U.S. Weather Bureau. Climatic Atlas for Alaska . Wash., G.P.O., 1943.

    U.S. Army Air Forces. Weather Information Branch.

    Report no.444.


    Iver J. Nygard and A. [ D ?] . Orvedal

    Soils of Arctic Canada

    Unpaginated      |      Vol_VI-0558                                                                                                                  
    EA-Plant Sciences

    (A. Leahey)




    Nature of Soils 2
    Mineral Zonal Soils 2
    Mineral Azonal Soils 5
    Organic Soils 6
    Unfrozen Soils 6
    Factors Affecting Soils 8
    Climate 8
    Vegetation 9
    Parent Material 9
    Topography 9
    Age 10
    Permafrost 11
    Zones and Subzones 12
    Major Zones 12
    Subzones 13
    Canadian or Pre-Cambrian Shield 13
    Paleozoic Limestone Areas 13
    Cretaceous Areas 14
    Cor c d illeran Region 14
    Recent Alluvial Soils 14
    Bibliography 16

    001      |      Vol_VI-0559                                                                                                                  
    EA-Plant Sciences

    (A. Leahey)



            The soil region of the Canadian Arctic is considered by the writer

    to be that part of northern Canada where permafrost occurs sufficiently

    near the surface to affect soil development. As the southern boundary

    of the region lies in the northern forests in country that is relatively

    unexplored from a pedological viewpoint, the limits of the region are

    not accurately known. However, the tentative southern boundary of the

    permafrost area shown by Jenness (2), and reproduced on the map (Fig. 1),

    is probably the best approximation to date of the southern limits of the

    Arctic. The term “arctic region” as used in this article refers to this

    region considered from a pedological standpoint.

            Information on the nature, genesis, and pedogenic and geographic

    relationships of the soils occurring in the Canadian Arctic is scanty.

    Feustel, Dutilly, and Anderson (1) have reported on the nature of a number

    of soil samples collected by Dutilly in the tundra region of northeastern

    Canada. Leahey (3; 4) has described the morphology of some arctic types

    in northwestern Canada, and given some chemical data for them. Valuable

    information on soils may also be obtained from geological, botanical, and

    other reports dealing with the arctic region. Although such reports do not

    specifically describe the soils, they often give pertinent information on

    Unpaginated      |      Vol_VI-0560                                                                                                                  

    Fig. I.

    002      |      Vol_VI-0561                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Leahy; Soils of Arctic Canada

    the landscape, vegetational cover, and geological nature of the surface


            While an authoritative account of the soils of the arctic region of

    Canada cannot be written until more pedological studies have been conducted

    there, the writer believes that on the basis of existing information it

    is possible to speculate, with a reasonable degree of confidence, on the

    kinds of soil that are found or may be expected in this vast region of

    North America.


    Nature of the Soils

            Both mineral and organic soils are widely distributed in the arctic

    region. As, in parts of the region, most of the soils have an organic

    surface layer of varying thickness, the division of the soils into these

    two categories must necessarily be a somewhat arbitrary one. Pedologists

    in Canada usually place soils having less than one foot of organic matter

    over the underlying mineral material in the mineral group, and those with

    a foot or more of surface organic layer in the organic group. This rule

    of thumb could be applied to the arctic soils, although the writer modified

    it to the extent that he also placed in the organic group soils where

    permafrost was encountered in the organic layer above the depth of one foot.

            Mineral Zonal Soils . From their examination of 37 soil samples

    collected from the arctic region surrounding Hudson Bay, Feustel, Dutilly,

    and Anderson (1) concluded that “No evidence of well defined profile

    characteristics was observed in the areas examined. The character of the

    parent rock, whether rugged and hard or comparatively soft and readily

    powdered apparently plays an important role in determining the extent of

    003      |      Vol_VI-0562                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Leahey; Soils of Arctic Canada

    profile development.” While the last statement would imply that there

    was more noticeable profile development on the finer-textured deposits,

    these authors stress the fact that there was no appreciable profile

    development in any of the soils examined.

            The writer’s observations on the soils of the North were made along

    the Mackenzie and Yukon rivers where climatic and vegetative factors were

    more favorable for soil development than in the areas that were examined

    by Dutilly. Yet even under these more favorable environmental conditions

    for soil development, the soil profiles were quite immature. The profile

    described by Leahey (3) as being representative of the subarctic zones

    indicates the extent of profile development under a mixed forest and for

    that reason his description is repeated below.

            “The zonal soil selected as being representative of the Sub-Arctic

    zone was taken on a level plain under a mixed forest of spruce, birch,

    alder and willow near the settlement of Fort Norman. Under a cover of

    about 2 inches of live moss, this soil had the following profile charac–


    2-0 inches Semi decomposed moss and leaves pH 5.2
    0-4 inches Grey brown fin d e sandy clay loam pH 6.5
    4-10 inches Light grey brown fin d e sandy clay loam pH 7.8
    10-18 inches Pale olive fin d e sandy clay loam with

    some yellow brown mottling
    pH 8.3
    18-30 inches Pale olive fin d e sandy clay loam with

    yellow brown mottling
    pH 8.3
    30-39 inches Same as 18-30” depth pH 8.4

            All horizons had weakly developed granular structure. On August 20, 1945

    permafrost was encountered at 39 inches.

    004      |      Vol_VI-0563                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Leahey; Soils of Arctic Canada

            The above description shows that below 10 inches in the min d eral

    soil, no horizon differentiation had taken place. The chemical data for

    this profile supported the field observations that this soil was in a

    youthful stage of development. The soil showed as much profile develop–

    ment as any observed by the writer on the forested permafrost uplands

    along the Mackenzie River. However, he has seen soils under similar

    conditions in the Yukon which had somewhat more development as indicated

    by a greater thickness of the upper weathered horizon of mineral soil,

    although there was little difference in the type of profile development.

    In fact, all the zonal soils examined in the forested areas of the arctic

    region had the same kind of profile development, namely, an organic surface

    layer; a fairly abrupt division between the organic layer and the mineral

    soil; and a brown upper mineral horizon which graded quickly into the

    mineral parent material that was more or less mottled.

            Calcium carbonate, when present in the parent material, was usually

    found immediately under the brown weathered horizon but sometimes occurred

    in that horizon. Beyond the slight leaching downward of the calcium

    carbonate, no evidence of elluviation and illuviation was seen in these

    soils. Differences between them could be attributed mainly to differences

    in parent material, but topographic position also played a part in that it

    affected the depth of the surface organic layer. Soils on level land and

    on the lower positions on slopes usually had a thicker organic layer than

    the soils occurring on better-drained sites.

            The writer had had the opportunity of examining the soils of the

    treeless tundra only in a small area on the west side of the Mackenzie

    River about 30 miles below Aklavik, where the parent material was a clay

    005      |      Vol_VI-0564                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Leahey; Soils of Arctic Canada

    till. The general type of the profiles examined did not differ materially

    from those previously described. In fact, these tundra soils were almost

    identical with soils observed on similar parent material but under a

    forest cover between Fort Good Hope and Arctic Red River. Not only were

    the profiles similar but both had the same kind of polygonal structure

    commonly found in clay soils in the arctic region.

            It is evident from the foregoing discussion that the soils of the

    northern parts of Canada affected by permafrost are in an immature stage

    of development in both the forested and nonforested areas. While, in

    general, those of the forested area show more development, it is doubtful

    if the zonal soils of the two areas can be classified into different large

    soil groups. On the soils with permanently frozen subsoils, the presence

    or absence of tre s e s does not appear to have significantl affected signifi–

    cantly the type or extent of profile development. It would also seem that

    the process of podsolization is relatively inactive in soils where perma–

    frost occurs sufficiently near the surface to affect soil development.

            Mineral Azonal Soils . Recent alluvial soils are found along the

    rivers and streams in the North. These soils do not show any development

    in profile characteristics except for an accumulation of organic matter

    in the upper part of the soil. Except where annual flooding occurs, per–

    mafrost is found in these soils at about the same depths as on the zonal

    soils of the adjacent uplands.

            Another important group of azonal soils, as far as areal extent is

    concerned, is the lithosols. These soils are either too coarse in texture

    to permit any soil development, or they occur on mountain slopes where

    erosion keeps pace with any soil development which could take place.

    006      |      Vol_VI-0565                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Leahey; Soils of Arctic Canada

            [ ?]

            Organic Soils. Little study has been made of the organic soils in

    the arctic region of Canada. Feustel, Dutilly, and Anderson (1) have

    given partial analyses for fourteen samples of organic materials. These

    analyses showed that, taken as a whole, no striking differences were

    noted in the arctic samples as compared with samples from temperate regions.

    In connection with these samples, it is of interest to note that only their

    three were considered to be peats, the others being more of the nature of

    mucks or peaty mucks as indicated by their physical character and by the

    magnitude of the ash content.

            In the forested area of the arctic region in northwestern Canada, the

    organic soils do not appear to differ appreciably in their nature from

    those found farther south where permafrost is absent. Most of the organic

    deposits appear to be derived from mosses, often with an admixture of woody

    peat, but sedge peats are not uncommon. The presence of a frozen layer

    in these soils at shallow depth, usually 9 to 12 inches from the surface,

    discourages attempts to examine the organic deposits below this depth.

    The surface layer of most of these organic deposits is raw peat, often

    turning into peaty muck or mucky peat at, or near, the top of the frozen

    layer. Sphagnum moss appears to be the major contributor to the formation

    of these organic soils.

            While raw peat is the dominant organic soil in the forested area,

    the typical organic soil on the tundra near Aklavik appears to be a peaty

    muck. The deposits examined by the writer were dark brown to black peaty

    mucks covered with about two inches of living moss.

            Unfrozen Soils. There are some soils in far northwestern Canada which

    are not affected bypermafrost. Such soils fall into three general groups;

    007      |      Vol_VI-0566                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Leahey; Soils of Arctic Canada

    some of the coarse-textured lithosols, fine-textured alluvial deposits

    which are subject to annual flooding, and soils occupying particular

    topographic positions. The first two groups are azonal soils, i.e.,

    they lack any profile development, while the last-mentioned group has

    a distinctive type of profile.

            Fine-textured alluvial soils lacking permafrost to a depth of at

    least 9 feet occur along the Mackenzie River and are quite extensive on

    the delta of that river. Such soils almost invariably have a high water

    table, usually at about 3 feet. The area of these soils is clearly

    marked by a different vegetation from that of the alluvial soils with

    permafrost, spruce being entirely absent on the former. The break between

    the spruce-covered lands with permafrost at depths of 16 to 30 inches and

    the willow- and alder-covered lands without permafrost in the subsoils is

    a very sharp one. The apparent reason for the differences in the perma–

    frost level and in the vegetation is the annual flooding which takes

    place on the lands with high water tables.

            The unfrozen soils which owe their condition to topographic aspect

    are of particular interest, inasmuch as they may indicate the type of

    profile development which would be dominant in the region if permafrost

    were not so prevalent. These soil d s occupy some steep south-facing slopes,

    and slopes along the breaks of rivers where drainage conditions are par–

    ticularly good and where the tree cover is sparse enough to allow the

    sunshine to penetrate to the ground. Consequently, these soils occur

    only on sites that are [ ?] drier than is normal for the region. These

    sites usually have a considerable amount of grass under the forest cover,

    the prevailing ground cover of moss being generally absent.

    008      |      Vol_VI-0567                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Leahey; Soils of Arctic Canada

            A soil profile examined on the top of one of the breaks of the

    Mackenzie River at about 67° N. latitude is fairly typical of the

    profiles found on these unfrozen soils. A brief description of this

    profile is given below.

    Depth, inches Description of material pH
    0-5 Reddish-brown clay loam 7.2
    5-12 Yellowish-brown clay loam 7.4
    Below 12 Gray clay loam, apparently

    the parent material

            No calcium carbonate was found down to the 12-inch depth. The

    parent material, however, was strongly calcareous.


    Factors Affecting Soils

            As the zonal soils of the arctic region in Canada show only weak

    profile development, the kinds of soil found there depend primarily on

    the nature of the mineral parent material. However, the other factors

    of soil formation, namely, climate, vegetation, topography, and age, have

    all had some influence on the soils. The following discussion of the

    effect of these different factors on the soils of the arctic region must

    necessarily be speculative owing to the limited knowledge available con–

    cerning the nature of these soils.

            Climate. The arctic region differs widely in climate from place to

    place. The forested section in the Canadian Northwest is a region of

    fairly warm summers and very cold winters, while the north and northeast

    tundra section has generally cool summers and cold winters. Precipitation

    varies from about 12 inches annually in the forested belt to a low of

    about 7 inches along parts of the arctic coast. These climatic differences

    009      |      Vol_VI-0568                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Leahey; Soils of Arctic Canada

    have had a tremendous influence on the nature of the vegetation, but in

    themselves they do not appear to have affected to any great extent the

    zonal soils within the region.

            Vegetation . Marked difference in vegetation, as, for instance, a tree

    cover as compared to a treeless tundra cover, do not appear to have any

    appreciable influence on the nature of the mineral soils. It has been

    mentioned previously that the soils covered by forest showed somewhat

    greater profile development than those from the tundra of northeastern

    Canada. However, this difference may be due more to climate than to

    vegetative cover, as in the Mackenzie Valley soils on similar parent

    material do not appear to be influenced by the t o y pe of vegetative cover.

    Apparently where the subsoils are permanently frozen, the type of natural

    vegetation has little influence on soil development.

            Parent Material. As climate and vegetational influences on soil for–

    mation have been at a minimum in the arctic region, the kind of mineral

    soils occurring there is dependent on the geological nature of the surface

    deposits. Although the region was glaciated, the nature of the glacial

    drift, in most cases, is closely related to the bedrock on which it lies.

    Thus there are many kinds of surface deposits in this glaciated part of

    Canada. In addition there are various kinds of alluvial deposits which

    were brought into the region by some of the major rivers, and also residual,

    colluvial, and quite likely some loessal soils, particularly in unglaciated

    sections of the Yukon. Altogether there are a great variety of surface

    deposits in this region of Canada and, therefore, a great variety of soils.

            Topgraphy. The effect of topography is of great importance in the

    arctic region in that it has a considerable influence on the distribution

    010      |      Vol_VI-0569                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Leahey; Soils of Arctic Canada

    of organic and mineral soils. In those areas where the climate pe m r mits

    a rapid growth of mosses, such as occurs in the forested section, organic

    soils occurs in the forested section, organic soils occupy all the de–

    pression s except those filled with water, cover the lower slopes leading

    up from the depressions, and also cover most of the level land. In face

    mineral soils are usually found only where the surface drainage is good.

    The aspect of the slopes is also of great importance, as many steep north–

    facing slopes may be covered entirely with organic soils. The writer has

    author O.K.? ( observed some quite steep north-facing slopes to be entirely covered with

    peat. In the central part of the Yukon it is not uncommon to find organic

    soils with permafrost at shallow depths on the north-facing slope of a hill,

    while mineral soils without permafrost are found on the south-facing slope.

            In those parts of the Arctic where rigorous climatic conditions

    prevent the rapid accumulation of peat, topographic position and aspect do

    not appear to be of such great importance in governing the distribution

    of organic and inorganic soils. It would appear that under these climatic

    conditions organic soils are chiefly found in depressions, and that they

    cover only a relatively small proportion of the land surface.

            Age . While soil-forming processes are exceedingly slow and in fact none

    of the soils are very old in point of time, the oldest dating from the last

    ice age, yet there are considerable differences between the alluvial soils

    of Recent age of the Mackenzie and Yukon rivers and the soils developed

    on the alluvial material these rivers deposited when they were forming

    their present valleys. Whether these differences are attributable to

    differences in age, or , to differences in the kind of material they deposited

    at various stages in their development, is not kn wo ow n. If they are due

    011      |      Vol_VI-0570                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Leahey; Soils of Arctic Canada

    to age, then more chemical changes will have taken place in the older

    soils than are suspected at the present time.

            Permafrost appears to be one of the principal factors limiting soil

    development in the arctic region of Canada. In many places the weak

    development of the soil profiles could be attributed to the cool, dry

    summers, a scanty vegetative cover, the nature of the parent material, or

    a combination of these factors, as well as to the presence of permafrost.

    However, in other sections, as for instance the forested part of the

    Mackenzie Valley, permafrost appears to be the only factor restricting

    profile development. The presence of permanently frozen subsoils greatly

    decreases, if it does not prevent, the leaching of the mineral matter.

    The rate of chemical weathering may also be slowed down by the coolness

    imparted to the thawed upper part of the soils by the underlying frozen


            Observations made in Canada indicate that where permafrost occurs it

    is usually found near enough to the surface to affect soil development.

    The shallow depth down to permafrost in most soils appears to be due in

    part to the low precipitation and in part to the organic surface layer, as

    the soils can be thawed out to a greater depth by either either by applying water or

    by clearing away the organic cover. Other conditions being the same, the

    depth to the frozen subsoils can be related to the thickness of the organic

    cover. For example at Fort Norman, Northwest Territories, observations made

    on August 15, 1945, showed that under a 3-inch organic layer the mineral soil was

    thawed to a depth of 29 inches while under a 6-inch organic layer it was

    thawed to a depth of 20 inches. An adjacent peat soil was frozen at a depth of

    only 11 inches. Total destruction of the organic cover by cultivation results

    012      |      Vol_VI-0571                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Leahey; Soils of Arctic Canada

    in a lowering of the permafrost level from 1 to 3 feet in the Mackenzie

    Valley. These observations suggest that the low precipitation is more

    responsible for the high level of permafrost in some parts of Canada

    than the presence of an organic surface layer.


    Zones and Subzones

            On the basis of broad differences in climate and vegetation the

    arctic region of Canada may be divided into zones, each of which may be

    divided into a number of subzones on the basis of the nature of the under–

    lying rock formations.


    Major Zones

            The area underlain by permafrost in Canada may be divided into a

    subarctic zone and an arctic zone; the subarctic zone being the forested

    section and the arctic zone the treeless tundra region. The boundary

    between these two zones is well defined, as the transition from forest to

    tundra is usually a fairly sharp one.

            Although the zonal soils of the subarctic and arctic zones are of the

    same genetic type, they differ somewhat in their degree of development.

    However, two other differences between the soils of the two zones are of

    equal or greater importance: the proportion of the land surface that is

    covered with bare rock and soils almost barren of vegetation is considerably

    greater in the arctic than in the subarctic zone, while the proportion of

    the land covered with organic soils is much higher in the latter zone.

    The subarctic zone has a high proportion of its surface covered with organic

    soils, while the arctic zone as a whole has a low proportion of such soils.

            In both the subarctic and arctic zones there are major differences

    013      |      Vol_VI-0572                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Leahey; Soils of Arctic Canada

    in the underlying rocks which are directly correlated with the kind of

    soil parent material, the local topography, and the geographic pattern

    of the different soils. These major differences in rock formation corres–

    pond closely, but not exactly, to the major physiographic regions, and

    therefore the boundaries of the subzones do not exactly correspond to

    those of the major physiographic divisions.



            Four major subzones which occur in both zones can be identified: the

    Canadian Shield, the Paleozoic limestone rocks of the Arctic Archipelago

    and the Interior Plains region, the Cretaceous rocks of the Interior Plains

    region, and the Cordilleran region.

            Canadian or Pre-Cambrian Shield. Although the general relief of the

    Canadian [ ?] Shield is low, the areas underlain by its rocks have an

    irregular topography consisting of low hummocky hills separated by depressions

    which are commonly occupied by lakes or muskegs. Glaciers moving over these

    hard rocks did not p ci ic k up or deposit any great load, and consequently the

    soil mantle is very thin or absent in numerous places. As centers of

    continental glaciation were located in this region, the soil mantle was

    derived only from the pre-Cambrian rocks. The mineral soils in the Canadian

    Shield are usually coarse in texture, consisting mainly of stony till,

    gravels , and sands. Clay may occur locally in small areas. These soils

    are somewhat acid in reaction.

            E Paleozoic Limestone Areas. Areas underlain by Paleozoic limestones

    are found in the islands of the Arctic Archipelago and in parts of the

    Interior Plains region which extends up the lowlands of the Mackenzie River.

    These areas vary in relief from level plains to mountains on some of the

    014      |      Vol_VI-0573                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Leahey; Soils of Arctic Canada

    islands. The soil mantle varies considerably in thickness but on the

    whole it is apt to be thin. As the soils on these areas have been derived

    largely from the underlying rocks, they are usually highly calcareous

    and strongly alkaline in reaction.

            Cretaceous Areas . Several large areas of Cretaceous rocks occur in

    the northern extension of the Interior Plains region. Such rocks are for the

    most part relatively soft shales. The relief varies from gently rolling to

    hilly, the local topography being somewhat irregular but typical of a

    youthful morainic surface. The soil mantle is usually fairly thick and

    very little bare rock is exposed at the surface. The soils are fine in

    texture except where material from harder rock formations has been

    carried in by the glaciers. Dominantly, however, the soil mantle has been

    derived from the soft underlying rocks. The reactions of the soils in this

    area vary from weakly acid to a k l kaline, depending on how much lime was

    present in the parent rocks.

            Cor c d illeran Region. This mountainous and dissected plateau region

    presents a complex pattern of relief, local topography, and soil parent

    material. Materials from many different kinds of rocks have contributed

    to the surface deposits. The mode of deposition of the soil parent material

    is much more complex than in the other subzones. This is due in part to the

    rugged topography and in part to the fact that a considerable portion of the

    region was not glaciated. In the glaciated areas most of the soils are coarse–

    textured, while in the unglaciated portion most of the soils are medium–

    textured and many of them are relatively free of stones.

            Recent Alluvial Soils . While occupying areas too small to be shown on

    a small-scale map, these deposits are of particular importance to man as they

    015      |      Vol_VI-0574                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Leahey; Soils of Arctic Canada

    occur in some of the most accessible parts of the arctic region. The

    alluvial lands found along the Mackenzie and Yukon rivers and their

    tributaries are of particular importance as they are generally of good

    quality, occur where climatic factors make it possible to grow certain

    garden and field crops, and are readily accessible. These alluvial soils

    vary in texture from fin d e , sandy loams to silt loams, contain considerably

    more organic matter than the adjacent upland miner s a l soils, and are almost

    invariably alkaline in reac g t ion. Alluvial soils also occur along the rivers

    in the pre-Cambrian and Paleozoic areas but as far as is known they are

    there less extensive and of much poorer quality than those which have been


    016      |      Vol_VI-0575                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Leahey; Soils of Arctic Canada


    1. Feustel, C., Dutilly, A., and Anderson, M.S. “Properties of soils

    from North American arctic regions,” Soil Sci. vol.48,

    pp.283-99, Sept. 1939.

    2. Jenness, J.L. “Permafrost in Canada,” Arctic vol.2, pp.13-27, Sept. 1949.

    3. Leahey, A. “Characteristics of soils adjacent to the Mackenzie River

    in the North West Territories of Canada,” Soil Sci Soil Sci . Soc.

    Amer. Proc . vol.12, pp.458-61, 1947.

    4. ----. “Factors affecting the extent of arable lands and the nature

    of the soils in the Yukon Territory,” Pacific Sci. Congr.

    7th, 1948. Paper delivered in New Zealand. As yet

    (Dec. 1950) available only from the author in mimeographed



    A. Leahey

    Soils of Greenland

    Unpaginated      |      Vol_VI-0576                                                                                                                  
    EA-Plant Sciences

    (Tyge W. Böcher)




    Introduction 1
    Conditions of Temperature of the Soil 1
    Structure of the Soil 2
    Chemical Conditions of the Soil 4
    Soil Microfauna 6
    Soil Bacteria 6
    Bibliography 7

    Unpaginated      |      Vol_VI-0577                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Böcher: Soils of Greenland



    Fig. 1. Stone circles in stone-polygon soil in the valley at Cape

    Daussy, East Greenland, lat. 69° 44′ N. -T.W. Böcher phot.
    Fig. 2. Moss tussocks with Salix herbacea-Carex rigida on bottom of

    a valley snow-covered in winter. Tugtilik in East Greenland,

    lat. 66° 20′ N. -T.W.Böcher phot.
    Fig. 3. The Blosseville coast at Cape Barclay in East Greenland, lat. 69°

    14′ N. Scree of basalt blocks alternating with clayey areas and

    solifluction soil ( Streifenboden with stone rows). -T.W.Böcher phot.
    Fig. 4. Sandflugtsdalen in West Greenland, lat. 67° N. In the middle of

    the picture embryonal dunes. In the background loess-covered

    slope with low willow scrubs and dry steppe-like patches of

    vegetation. -T.W.Böcher phot.
    Fig. 5. Variation in hydrogen ion concentration and electric conductivity

    (Lt) in soils from Southwest Greenland. Ordinate: percentage

    frequency. - After Böcher 1949 b.
    Fig. 6. Dried up and cracked saline soil on shore of saline lake. West

    Greenland, lat. 67° N. -T.W.Böcher phot.

            Note: The author submitted the above photographs for possible use as

    illustrations. Because of the high cost of reproducing them as

    halftones they will not be used. Meantime all photographs are

    being held at The Stefansson Library

    001      |      Vol_VI-0578                                                                                                                  
    EA-Plant Sciences

    (Tyge W. Böcher)





            The following survey is intended as a short report on the information

    about Greenland soils available at present and should not be considered an

    attempt at a general account of Greenland pedology. Our knowledge of the

    soils in Greenland is still very deficient, and unfortunately the plant

    sciences section of the Encyclopedia Arctica is being prepared shortly

    before the conclusion of important pedological investigations made on recent

    Danish expeditions to Northwest and Northeast Greenland, including Peary

    Land. With the exception of a very small number of papers, the literature

    on the soils of Greenland has been written by botanists who started soil

    investigations as part of the analysis of ecological factors.


    Conditions of Temperature of the Soil

            In early botanical literature (e.g., Kruuse 1898, p. 389) there are

    reports on some measurements of soil temperature made on single days at

    different depths and in different vegetations. Recent papers include reports

    on observations for longer periods (see especially Sørensen, 1935 and 1941).

    Poser’s paper of 1932 deals with investigations of permanently frozen soil

    (in which there are parallel horizontal flakes of pure ice up to a thickness

    of 2 cm.) and of the soil thawing in summer and its depth in proportion to

    002      |      Vol_VI-0579                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Böcher; Soils of Greenland

    The distance from perennial snowdrifts or the ice-foot along the coast of

    sea and fjord. Sørensen’s Plate 13 (1941) gives a very interesting graphic

    representation of the temperature series for air, soil surface, and soil at

    depths of 60 and 100 cm. and of the thickness of the snow cover in the

    period September 1934 to August 1935 at Eskimonaes in Northeast Greenland.

    Böcher’s investigations (1949) include surface temperature in continental

    West Greenland in August 1946. A south-facing loess soil there had a mean

    maximum temperature of 29°C. and an absolute temperature of 50°C., while

    corresponding values for a level moist humus soil were 12° and 20°.


    Structure of the Soil

            Solifluction phenomena have been studied particularly. Poser (1932)

    classifies the arctic type of soil as: ( 1 ) Strukturboden , solifluction soil,

    including (a) Steinnetzwerk, stone-polygon soil, and (b) Streifenboden,

    stone-row soil developed by solifluction; ( 2 ) Frostspaltenboden , developed

    by contraction of the soil under very great cooling; and (3) Pflasterboden

    (or Schuttglättung) gravelly flats or surface formed by closely packed

    pebbles in depressions which for the greater part of the year are covered

    by large masses of snow.

            Sørensen (1935) takes up the problem of solifluction in itself for

    thorough discussion and in this connection, besides measurements of tempera–

    ture, deals with alayses of particle-size distribution (according to Atterberg)

    in sandy and clayey solifluction soils. His Table 4 is a survey of the high–

    arctic solifluction forms in their relation partly to the snow cover and the

    content of water in the soil and partly to the sloping and homogensity of the

    soil (fine-grained soil with or without stones or without stones or blocks).

    003      |      Vol_VI-0580                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Böcher; Soils of Greenland

    A good example of a Greenland solifluction soil on level ground (stone–

    polygon soil) is seen in Figure 1. Investigations of the relation of

    vegetation to solifluction are reported in Seidenfaden, 1931; Böcher, 1933;

    Seidenfaden & Sørensen, 1937.

            Clayey soils are widely distributed, particularly as parts of the

    complex solifluction soils ( Strukturboden ) mentioned above, and particularly

    occurring in typically arctic parts of Greenland. Furthermore deposits of

    clay, often of considerable extent, are found at the heads of such fjords

    as do not end in calving glaciers, but to which rivers flow from the edge

    of the inland ice. Very considerable areas with bluish-gray are found, for

    example, at the head of the Søndre Strømfjord. The dry parts of these

    deposits of clay provide very bad conditions for vegetation, as the soil

    becomes very hard, with deep crevices.

            Loess Soils. The West Greenland loess soils in the continental area

    at the edge of the inland ice about latitude 67° North were first investi–

    gated by Nordenskjöld (1914, p. 518), who provides an Atterberg analysis of

    particle-size distribution in a single soil and compares it with other loess

    soils outside Greenland. Further investigations of the particle sizes in

    loess and sandy soils in this area are reported in Böcher (1949 b).

            Drift-sand areas of fairly large extent have been recorded by Hartz and

    Kruuse (1911) from Hurry Inlet at Scoresby Sound. There are fairly consider–

    able areas of dunes there in connection with stony plains that have arisen

    by the sand being transported away. Considerable inland dune areas are

    found in connection with the large river valleys in the continental regions

    of West Greenland. See further Böcher 1949 a and b and Figure 4.

            Gravelly Soils . Very coarse-grained gravelly soils, unfavorable to

    004      |      Vol_VI-0581                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Böcher; Soils of Greenland

    vegetation, arise by weathering of gabbro in the Kangerdlugssuaq area in

    East Greenland, where large stretches are covered by sharp-edged gravel

    without vegetation (Böcher, 1933). About Angmagssalik, too, there are

    large areas with gravelly soil, the size of grains of which is between

    2 and 200 mm. (Kruuse, 1912). From the coarsest gravelly and stony soils

    there is an even transition to the block areas which are particularly found

    in acres and which, for example, in the basalt regions of East Greenland

    have an enormous distribution. The lowest part of the mountains up to

    heights of about 200 to 300 meters above sea level may consist mainly of

    large angular blocks (Fig. 3).

            Humus Soils . Special investigations of the content of humus in the

    Greenland soils have not been recorded. Characteristic humus soils are

    particularly found in South Greenland. There is no large-scale formation

    of peat. In South Greenland we may come across bogs with rather high

    tussocks formed by Sphagnum and Aulacomnium . Peat is formed as far north

    as Angmagssalik district on the east coast and in the Disko region on the

    west coast, in the north mostly a marsh peat of slight thickness with ample

    admixture of mineral particles. Many soils under dwarf shrub heaths in

    southern Greenland are nearly pure humus soils. Farther north the admixture

    of minerals even in heath soils is nearly always fairly great.


    Chemical Conditions of the Soil

            So far these have particularly been investigated in Southwest Greenland

    (Böcher, 1949 b). Very great differences have been discovered between soils

    from the coastal areas and soils from the inland, particularly the continental

    area about latitude 67° North. A general survey of the distribution of

    005      |      Vol_VI-0582                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Böcher; Soils of Greenland

    hydrogen ion concentrations and values for electric conductivity in

    oceanic and continental regions is given in Figure 5. Even typical

    humus soils in the continental area have no pH below 4.8, which is due

    to less leaching and admixture of loess particles. The highest pH values

    and values of electric conductivity are recorded from saline soils. Such

    soils are of course found by the sea, particularly in salt marshes, (cf.

    Madsen, 1936, pp. 35-41), but have also been found in the inland around

    lakes without any outlet and on south-facing slopes covered with loess.

    The continental saline soils have been made the objects of particularly

    thorough chemical analyses. A percentage sodium-potassium saturation of

    17 and a pH of 8.9 were found on a south-facing slope where salt crusts

    were formed on the ground because of an upward movement of the water.

    Similar values were found in the salt lake depressions. In a single place

    there was even a genuine alkaline soil with pH 9.2 and a sodium-potassium

    saturation of 25 per cent.

            Some measurements of potassium values and phosphoric acid values in

    various Greenland soils have been recorded in Böcher 1949 b. These are

    generally high as compared with the values of Danish soils. No special

    investigations of cultivated soils in Greenland have been recorded.

    Manured soils occur everywhere around villages and outlying settlements

    and around many ruins of Eskimo houses; also, below bird cliffs and in

    resting places of various animals. Cultivated soil (cultivated grass

    fields, potato fields, fields of spring corn, gardens near houses) is

    mainly found in southernmost Greenland.

            The occurrence of soils in the regions of basalt and Archean rock

    is of great significance for our understanding of many distributions of

    006      |      Vol_VI-0583                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Böcher; Soils of Greenland

    of plants in Greenland. A number of acidophilous plants completely

    avoid the basalt, or are very rare and selective within the basalt areas;

    see the section on “Edaphic Distributions” in my article on “Flora and

    Vegetation in Greenland” in the Encyclopedia Arctica.


    Soil Microfauna

            Comprehensive investigations based upon Berlese tests of the micro–

    fauna in the soil (particularly orbatid and collembole fauna) have been

    made by Jørgensen 1934 a and b, M. Hammer 1937, 1944, and Hearløv 1942.

    These investigations have been made in different plant communities, and

    therefore in soils with highly different conditions for the fauna.


    Soil Bacteria

            Special investigations of the soil microflora have been made on

    Disko Island in West Greenland by C. Barthel (1922). Fourteen very different

    samples showed a great uniformity with regard to the species content, and

    the similarity between the Greenland soil flora and that of Europe (France)

    was found to be very great. On the occurrence of tubercle-forming bacteria

    of the Leguminosae, see Nielsen (1928) and Porsild (1929) On sulphur

    bacteria in salt marsh soils, see Madsen (1936).

    007      |      Vol_VI-0584                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Böcher; Soils of Greenland


    1. Barthel, C. 1922. “Recherches bactëriologiques sur le sol et sur les

    matieres fëcales des animaux polaires du Groëland septenrionale.”

    Meddelelser om Grønland , vol. 64, pp.1-76.

    2. Böcher, T.W. 1933. “Studies on the Vegetation of the East Coast of

    Greenland between Scoresby Sound and Angmagssalik.” Meddelelser

    om Grønland , vol.104, no.4.

    3. ----. 1949a. “The Botanical Expedition to West Greenland.” Meddelelser

    om Grønland, vol.147, no.1

    4. ----. 1949b. “Climate, Soil, and Lakes in Continental West Greenland in

    Relation to Plant Life.” Meddelelser om Grønland , vol.147, no.2.

    5. Haarløv, N. 1942. “A morphologic-systematic-ecological investigation of

    Acarina .” Meddelelser om Grønland , vol.128, no.1

    6. Hammer, M. 1937. “A quantitative and qualitative investigation of the

    microfauna communities and of the soil at Angmagssalik and in

    Mikifjord.” Meddelelser om Grønland , vol.108, no.2.

    7. ----. 1944. “Studies on the Oribatids and Collemboles of Greenland.”

    Meddelelser om Gønland , vol.141.

    8. Hartz, N. & Kruuse, C. 1911. “The Vegetation of Northeast Greenland.”

    Meddelelser om Grønland , vol.30.

    9. Jørgensen, M. 1934. “A quantitative investigation of the Microfauna

    Communities of the Soil in East Greenland.” Meddelelser om

    Grønland , vol.100, no.9.

    1)0 10. Kruuse, C. 1898. “Vegetationen i Egedesminde Skaegaard.” Meddelelser

    om Grønland , vol.14.

    11. ----. 1912. “Rejser og botaniske Undersøgelser i østgrønland samt

    Angmagssalikegnens Vegetation.” Meddelelser om Grønland , vol.40.

    12. Madsen, H. 1936. “Investigations on the shore fauna of East Greenland

    with a survey of the shores of other arctic regions.” Meddelelser

    om Grønland , vol.100, no.8.

    13. Nielsen, N. 1928. “Gibt es Knölchenbakterien auf Disko in Grönland?”

    Dansk Botanisk Arkiv , vol.5, no.19.

    14. Nordenskjöld, O. 1914. “Einige Zűge der physischen Geographie und der

    Entwickelungsgeschichte Sűd-Grönlands.” Geographishe Zeitschift ,

    vol.20, Heft 8, pp.425-641. Leipzig.

    008      |      Vol_VI-0585                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Böcher; Soils of Greenland

    15. Porsild, M. P. 1929. “Gibt es es Knöllchenbakterien auf Disko in

    Grönland?” Dansk Botanisk Arkiv , vol.6, no.7.

    16. Poser, H. 1932. “Einige Untersuchungen zur Morphologie Ostergrönlands.”

    Meddelelser om Grønland , vol.94, no.5.

    17. Seidenfaden, G. 1931. “Moving Soil and vegetation in East Greenland,”

    Meddelelser om Grønland , vol.87, no.2.

    18. ----., and Sørensen, Th. 1937. “The Vascular Plants of Northeast

    Greenland from 74°30′ to 79°00′.” Meddelelser om Grønland ,

    vol.101, no.4.

    19. Sørensen, Th. 1935. “Bodenformen und Pflanzendecke in Nordostgrönland.

    Beiträge zur Theorie der polaren Bodenversetzungen auf Grund von

    Beobachtungen über deren Einfluss auf die Vegetation in Nordos–

    grönland.” Meddelelser om Grønland , vol.93, no.4.

    20. ----. 1941. “Temperature Relations and Phenology of the Northeast

    Greenland Flowering Plants.” Meddelelser om Grønland , vol.125.


    Tyge W. Böcher

    Soils of Svalbard and Northernmost Europe

    Unpaginated      |      Vol_VI-0586                                                                                                                  
    EA-Plant Sciences

    (Gunnar Holmsen)




    Permanently Frozen Soil 1
    Soil Profile 3
    Frost and Solifluction 6
    Surface Markings 7
    Springs 9
    Ground Ice 9
    Bibliography 12

    Unpaginated      |      Vol_VI-0587                                                                                                                  
    EA-Plant Sciences

    (Gunnar Holmsen)





            With the manuscript of this article, the author submitted 11 photo–

    graphs for possible use as illustrations. Because of the high cost of

    reproducing them as haltones in the printed volume, only a small propor–

    tion of the photographs submitted by contributors to Encyclopedia

    Arctica can be used, at most one or two with each paper; in some cases

    none. The number and selection must be determined later by the publisher

    and editors of Encyclopedia Arctica . Meantime all photographs are being

    held at The Stefansson Library.

    001      |      Vol_VI-0588                                                                                                                  
    EA-Plant Sciences

    (Gunnar Holmsen)




    Permanently Frozen Soil

            According to a definition frequently used by phtogeographers, a

    climate is considered arctic when the July isotherm is below + 10°C. (50°F.).

    By this definition, only the northernmost coastal strip of Norway can be

    called arctic, and nowhere in the country does such a climate extend as far

    south as latitude 70° N. The development of vegetation is mainly influenced

    by the summer temperature, while the qualities of the soil depend largely on

    the low winter temperatures.

            In areas with extremely cold winters, as for instance northern Siberia,

    even quite warm summers fail to thaw frozen ground. The temperature of the

    ground in summer in areas of this type is 2 to 3°C. below the freezing point

    of water. In mountain regions the permanently frozen soil extends farther

    south than near the sea. Thus, a frozen moraine more than 20 meters deep was

    discovered near the Moskogaisa mines, 1,000 meters above sea level at 69°30′

    N. latitude.

            Inland on the Scandinavian Peninsula there are uplands where the soil

    stays frozen throughout the summer. Even as far south as latitude 62°07′ N.,

    layers of permanently frozen soil were found underneath the turf during railway

    building at Dovrefjell. The layer was encountered at an altitude of 948 meters

    002      |      Vol_VI-0589                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Holmsen: Soils of Svalbard and Northernmost Europe

    above sea level and extended several meters below the surface. Turf hillocks

    that never thaw are known in northern Norway, Sweden and Finland, in the Kola

    Peninsula, and in the tundras of the Soviet Union. East of Archangel the

    eternally frozen soil occurs as far south as the Arctic Circle, while in

    the Ural Mountains it extends even farther south.

            As we travel south, we must climb higher and higher in the mountains to

    encounter conditions which may be considered similar to those of the Arctic.

    In the mountains of the Scandinavian Peninsula are found soil structures

    characteristic of the polar regions, such as tundra polygons, hillock fields,

    and solifluction tongues.

            In European U.S.S.R. the dry tundras with permanently frozen soil stretch

    along a narrow coastal strip in the north. From this belt southward to the

    forest region scientists have noted a swampy tundra with occasional frozen

    peat hillocks underneath the thawed surface layer.

            In arctic areas the frozen substratum lies close to the surface. The

    depth of the frozen layer depends on winter temperature and snow cover.

    Extreme cold and a scanty cover of snow may result in frozen earth hundreds

    of meters deep. The thickness of the thawed top layer to which water circu–

    lation is confined is very slight. As the dissolved matter in soil water is

    not transported to the depths, soil profiles like those of humid regions

    cannot be formed in the Arctic. The saturation of the surface layer greatly

    facilitates solifluction, even on only moderation sloping fields. Also, this

    saturated layer on top of the dry frozen earth is an essential condition for

    the formation of surface markings. These characteristic arctic phenomena

    are the result of the frozen substratum, low evaporation, and sparse vegetation.

            In Svalbard the frozen layer attains a depth of hundreds of meters. The

    003      |      Vol_VI-0590                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Holmsen: Soils of Svalbard and Northernmost Europe

    few measurements that have been made offer interesting information. A deep

    drilling on Bear Island disclosed a layer of frozen material 75 meters

    thick. The frozen layer in the flat Spitsbergen valleys is of a similar

    thickness, while in mines higher above sea level it is considerably thicker.

    Thus the Sofie mine, Kings Bay, is frozen to a depth of 150 meters, while the

    rock temperature in the Svea mine, Bell Sound, only attains 0°C. at a depth

    of 320 meters below the surface and at a distance of 430 meters from the

    mine opening.

            Soil does not freeze underneath large glaciers, fjords, and great lakes.

    The frozen zone may, however, creep as much as 200 meters inward from the

    edge under large glaciers. The absence of frost under glaciers was proved

    by H. U. Sverdrup, who measured temperatures on the Fourteenth of July Glacier

    in 1935.

            Among the polar countries, Svalbard is the one most extensively surveyed

    geologically. During the second half of the nineteenth century, Swedish

    explorers performed outstanding pioneer work which has been carried on into

    the twentieth century. During the early part of this century, Norwegian

    researchers participated in the scientific mapping expeditions of Prince

    Albert I of Monaco. These were succeeded by a number of Norwegian expeditions

    partly financed by the state. Since the Svalbard treaty was put to effect

    in 1923, the investigation of Spitsbergen and Bear Island has been conducted

    by the Polar Institute, a Norwegian state institution, or its predecessors.


    Soil Profile

            The facts about the soils of Svalbard given in this article are valid

    also for the alpine regions of northernmost Europe.

    004      |      Vol_VI-0591                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Holmsen: Soils of Svalbard and Northernmost Europe

            In the Svalbard climate, mechanical weathering far exceeds chemical

    weathering. Colloidal matter is therefore sparsely represented in the soil,

    mineral absorption from which is consequently low. Humus deposits are

    inconsiderable. Because of the scanty vegetation and the constantly frozen

    layer underneath, the conditions for peat formation are unfavorable. Small

    areas of tundra swamps, however, occur in large flat-bottomed valleys.

            K. C. Björlykke examined some Spitsbergen and Bear Island soil profiles

    to a depth of 50 centimeters. One sample from Hjorthamn, Advent Bay, con–

    sisted of river mud in wh c i ch the find sandy fraction (of particles 0.2 to 0.02

    millimeters in diameter) was dominant. The phosphorous pentoxide (P2O5) and [ ?]

    [ ?] potassium oxide (K 2 O 5 ) contents were equal in the upper horizon (A) and in the

    [ ?] under layer (C), while the underlayer was somewhat richer in calcium

    oxide (CaO) and ferric oxide (Fe 2 O 3 ) than the A horizon. While the A horizon

    shows a practically neutral reaction of pH 6.54, the C horizon is slightly

    acid, being pH 6.11. Thus the analyses does not indicate noteworthy

    chemical weathering.

            Another sample, from Ny-Aalesund in Kings Bay, was taken from a marine

    terrace, the surface of which consisted of pebbles and gravel with some

    finer material gradually passing into marine clay with mussel shells toward

    the lower depths. The terrace was barely covered with scanty vegetation

    consisting of mosses and lichens, Salix polaris , and a few flower species.

    The underlayer as well as the upper one showed a slightly acid reaction -

    pH 5.76 and 5.53, respectively. Chemical analysis proved that the upper and

    under layers contained nearly the same amount of potassium and iron, and even

    phosphorus and calcium. Thus, chemical weathering is not much in evidence in

    Svalbard. There is little or no difference between the upper and under layers.

    005      |      Vol_VI-0592                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Holmsen: Soils of Svalbard and Northernmost Europe

    Indeed, the surface deposits of Svalbard correspond in their entirety to

    the underlayers of regions farther south. The profiles, consequently, show

    no actual soil formation.

            Among the three Bear Island samples examined, one showed an A horizon

    richer in P 2 O 5 , K 2 O, and CaO than the C horizon, the pH being 7.72 and 8.39,

    respectively. The second profile contained equal amounts of P 2 O 5 and K 2 O in

    the two horizons, while the C horizon contained more CaO and Fe 2 O 3 than did

    the A horizon. The third sample also showed relatively stable contents of

    phosphorus and potassium at the lower levels, whereas calcium and iron

    increased so considerably downward as to indicate the beginning of soil

    formation. All the samples showed a strong alkaline reaction, and alkalinity

    as well as calcium content increased with depth.

            The upper layer of the third sample was highly humous. In this respect

    it resembles the soils of humid regions, and Björlykke considers this sample

    a transition , form between the sterile skeleton soil of Svalbard and the

    soils of northern Norway.

            E. Blanek has collected and examined a number of earth and rock samples

    from the Ice Fjord area. Chemical analysis of one rock in various stages

    of weathering showed that calcium and iron contents are partially dissolved

    during the weathering process, while the alkalis remain intact, consequently,

    the water hydrolysis even demonstrated by Svalbard river water, in which

    dissolved matter is very scarce.

            In spite of the limited circulations of water in the frozen earth, salt

    crystallization occurs at the surface in the wide Ice Fjord valleys. The

    crystals may become so numerous as to make the ground appear covered with

    hoarfrost. The salt consists of potassium sulfate, magnesium oxide, and

    006      |      Vol_VI-0593                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Holmsen: Soils of Svalbard and Northernmost Europe

    sodium carbonate, and the curst may attain a thickness of one centimeter,

    though usually it is frail and thin, forming a mere veil. Damp air dissolves

    it. The sale is derived from Tertiary shales and sandstone layers as well

    as from Jurassic and Triassic layers.


    Frost and Solifluction

            Frost is an active agent of mechanical weathering. In arctic regions

    this is apparent from the occurrence of great boulder fields on plateaus, of

    talus formations, and of screes covering the slopes beneath rock exposures.

    In the cold climate of Spitsbergen, flat block plains extend down to sea level,

    while to the south in Europe they are encountered only at some height above

    the sea (Fig. 1).

            When freezing, water swells with enormous force. This process, repeated

    again and again, wedges open the bedding planes and joints and even the pores

    between individual particles or crystals. Frost may break sandstone and

    coarse-grained eruptives into big blocks, and slate or fine-grained rocks

    into a loose grit.

            The recurrent disturbance through alternative wetting and drying, freezing

    and thawing, causes both coarse and fine material to slide slowly downhill.

    This surface creep or solifluction is a most important factor in helping

    to determine the type and appearance of the soil in polar countries, where

    the sparsely covered earth is frozen below the surface layer, which in summer

    is sodden. [ ?] Within the boundaries of the arctic climate, therefore,

    stable soil is not as common as creeping soil (Fig. 2).

            The peculiar arrangement of the material is a striking feature. Thus,

    the weathering gravel may be ranged in parallel striped down the mountainsides

    007      |      Vol_VI-0594                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Holmsen: Soils of Svalbard and Northernmost Europe

    (stone stripes). Between bands of finer material, varying in breadth from

    a few decimeters to a coupld of meters, there may be seen narrower stripes

    of stone, sometimes slightly sunken. Vegetation, if any, is limited to these

    stone stripes.

            On moderately sloping hills the earth will sag into convex lobes. This

    movement causes a mount to be accumulated at the foot of the sliding area,

    such mounds sometimes attaining a height of about two meters. In summer

    the mound may be pushed forward a few decimeters (Fig. 3).

            Even in heavy block screes one may observe closely packed ridges which

    have been formed by sagging. With repeated change of volume, the blocks

    attain an unstable balance that leads to gliding.

            In Spitsbergen, shales easily crumble into fine gravel. Unless the

    debris is carried away by running water at the foot of the scree, it will

    be caught by solifluction and distributed over the bottom of the valley (Fig. 4).


    Surface Markings

            Even on level plains, seasonal freeze and thaw will sort the earth on

    top of the continuously frozen ground. The most extreme development of this

    is encountered as a regular network of polygonal fissures filled with stones.

    The polygons make a striking impression in the landscape, as may be seen in

    Figure 5. Where silty soil occurs, the water-soaked layer between the surface

    and the frozen ground will contract while drying, and in homogeneous material

    fissures at an angle of about 120° will develop. In this manner hexagonal

    polygons (Fig. 6). Occasionally two generations of polygons appear in one

    locality, as may be seen in Figure 7. Inside the older, large polygons, which

    commonly have a diameter of 8 to 10 decimeters, are the younger, small ones

    with a diameter of only a few centimeters. The polygon fissures further the

    008      |      Vol_VI-0595                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Holmsen: Saoils of Svalbard and Northernmost Europe

    draining of the soil as they constitute an outlet for the water. Vegetation

    also profits by the fissures which offer good growing conditions.

            On stony ground there are polygons, the boundaries of which are marked

    by raised stone walls instead of the usual fissures. Where stones predominate,

    the polygons look rather like circles bounded by more or less broad stone

    edges, as illustrated by Figure 8. The sorting of stone materials is brought

    about by frost. In the polygon s fissures, frost will press the stone toward

    the surface. Since stone is a better conductor of heat than earth, and ice

    will melt around and beneath it during the day. At night, when the water

    freezes again, the stone will be pressed up through the surface where it

    remains propped up by pebbles after the ice has melted. On sloping ground

    are polygons, the form of which has been stretched out by the creeping surface.

    Practically everywhere a keen observer will see signs of soil movement (Fig. 9).

            Some polar plants get protection against evaporation by growing in matted

    tufts. Where those plants occur on nearly stoneless earth they cause tundra

    hillocks. Vegetation [ ?] insulates against changes of temperature, so the

    stretches of bare ground between the tufted plants are particularly liable

    to be penetrated by frost (Fig. 10).

            When the earth freezes, an ice sheet will form under the hillock, pressing

    it upward. Melting, the ice leaves its space to be filled up by underground

    material in a manner similar to that which goes on in the stone polygons just

    described. Repeated freezing and thawing, therefore, will add to the height

    of the hillocks. On examination they consist of fine-grained mineral earth —

    not, as might be expected, of turf.

            Tundra hillocks occur on the high mountain plains of Scandinavia, though

    at considerable altitudes. In central Norway, they are usually found at

    009      |      Vol_VI-0596                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Holmsen: Soils of Svalbard and Northernmost Europe

    1,100 to 1,200 meters above sea level.



            In the autumn, long after frost has set in and most water has turned to

    ice, streams still run from under the large glaciers. In Svalbard there are

    also springs and subterranean watercourses, the relatively high temperature

    of which indicates their source to be in frost-free earth below the frost

    zone. The high temperature is especially marked in the large springs that

    remain several degrees above the freezing point (up to [+?] 15°C.), and it is

    probably owing to the greater quantities of water involved in these cases

    that the temperature can remain so high in passing through the frost zone.

    Many large springs appear in limestone channels, some of which may be associated

    with dislocations.

            In Bock Bay on the north coast of Spitsbergen, there are warm springs

    whose temperature may remain as high as + 28°C. These springs are limited to

    a small area and are supposed to be of volcanic origin. The high temperatures

    of numerous springs along the west coast, however, bear no relation to [ ?]

    volcanic activity. The warm water must be a result of the increase of the

    earth’s temperature at low levels. Water at a temperature as high as + 15°C.

    must originate from great depths, at least 500 meters below the frozen zone.

    This is also indicated by the presence of dissolved silica and sodium in the

    spring water. On analysis the water contains considerable amounts of salt,

    which must be owing to admixture of deep-seated water.


    Ground Ice

            Layers of pure ice and earth alternate below the thawed top layer.

    Such bedding of the soil is common in the great Spitsbergen valleys and has

    010      |      Vol_VI-0597                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Holmsen: Soils of Svalbard and Northernmost Europe

    also been described from most other arctic countries under such terms as

    stone ice, fossil ice, or ground ice.

            The botanist Hanna Resvoll-Holmsen was the first to observe the deep

    layers of ground ice. From Coles Bay, where the spent the summer of 1908,

    she described the occurrence shown in Figure 11. The terrace photographed

    is 8 to 10 meters high, situated about 3 kilometers from the head of the bay,

    and 30 meters above sea level, sloping from the mountainside toward the river

    which curves below. Here the earth profile could be observed in three deep,

    approximately parallel crevices. The crevice walls consisted of pure ice,

    apart from the top layer of 80 centimeters which consisted of five different

    layers. Resting on the ice were two peat layers of a combined [ ?] depth

    of 25 centimeters. The lower one consisted of moss peat, while the upper one

    contained other plant remains as well, such as a large amount of Salix polaris

    leaves. Above the peaty layers lay 5 centimeters of silt, upon which rested

    an equally deep layer of fine clayey gravel. The top layer was 40 centimeters

    of mud. As the ice melted, the layers on top of it slid into the crevice,

    covering the bottom with mud and so obstructing examination of the lower ice.

    The visible part of the ice was clear, containing practically no earth. The

    peat layers resting on ice appear to have been buried under a flow of solifluction.

    The pure ice layers in the ground may attain a depth of a couple of meters.

    Alternating with earth layers, they have been observed to a depth of 15 meters

    below the surface.

            There are many theories concerning the origin of [ ?] ground ice as

    known in regions with permanently frozen soil. The most acceptable explanation

    is that in the autumn when frost sets in, the uppermost part of the thawed

    soil is gradually transformed into a watertight cover of frozen earth while

    011      |      Vol_VI-0598                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Holmsen: Soils of Svalbard and Northernmost Europe

    freezing downward from the surface. Between this cover and the permanently

    frozen earth below, an unfrozen bed may remain for some months during the

    early part of the winter. In Antarctic Harbour, East Greenland, circulation

    of water between the two layers has been observed from the middle of September

    to the middle of December.

            The circulating water will partly stay under hydrostatic pressure at the

    lower levels of the hillsides until it freezes. Ground ice will be found in

    the narrow space between the frozen surface layer and the permanently frozen

    earth. Owing to the water pressure and the freezing of the water, the surface

    may be raised considerably.

            The occurrence and distribution of ground ice is limited to localities

    where topography, soil, and water supply promote [ ?] its formation. This

    is the case in the lowlands along the slopes of the great valleys, where

    water seeps down from patches of ice and snow until frost sets in. As might

    be expected, the ice attains its greatest depth below these slopes. In the

    plains far from the slopes, there are usually only small sheets of ice, if any.

            The ground ice is normally built up from one year to the other, and thus

    is mostly stratified with bands and patches of soil. When the water supply

    is abundant, however, pure ice of considerable thickness may be formed during

    one year.

            As ground ice is formed in the lower part of the woil which has thawed

    during the summer, the ice will follow the surface at slight depth, in Spits–

    bergen varying from 10 centimeters where the insulation cover is particularly

    effective, oown to 60 centimeters or even more. Where the thaw goes deeper,

    as in several places in Siberia and in the arctic prairies of North America,

    ice will be formed at even greater depths.

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    1. Bailey, E.B., and Weir, J. Introduction to Geology . London, 1939.

    2. Beskow, Gunnar. “Soil freezing and frost heaving,” Sveriges

    geologiska Undersökning , ser.C nr. 375, 1935.

    3. Björlykke, K.O. “Bodenprofile aus Svalbard,” Soil Research , vol.1, 1928.

    4. Blanck, E. “Die wissenschaftlichen Ergebnisse einer bodenkundlichen

    Forschungsreise nach Spitzbergen im Sommer 1926,” Chemie

    der Erde . Jena, 1928.

    5. Flint, R.F. Glacial Geology and the Pleistocene Epoch . N.Y., London, 1942.

    6. Holmsen, Gunnar. “Report on a geological expedition to Spitsbergen 1909,”

    Bergens Mus. Årb. 1911.

    7. ----. “Frozen ground along the Dovre railway,” Naturen , 1917.

    8. ----. Spitsbergens Natur og Historie . Kristiania, 1911.

    9. ---. “Spitsbergens jordbundsis,” Norske Geografiske Selskabs.

    Årbog , 1912.

    10. ---. “Om jordlags langsomme glidning, solifluktion,” Norske Geografiske

    Selskabs Årbog , 1913.

    11. Huxley, J.S., and Odell, N.E. “Notes on surface markings in Spitsbergen,”

    Geogr.J. 1924.

    12. Högbom, Bertil. “Einige Illustrationen zu den geologischen Wirkungen

    des Frostes auf Spitzbergen,” Geol.Inst. of Upsala, Bull .

    vol.9, 1910.

    13. ---. “Wustenerscheinungen in Spitzbergen,” Ibid . vol.11, 1912.

    14. ---. “Uber die geologische Bedeutung des Frostes,” Ibid . vol.12, 1913.

    15. ----. “Beobachtungen aus Nordschweden über den Frost als geologischer

    Faktor,” Ibid . vol.20, 1921.

    16. Lundqvist, G. De Svenska Fjällens Natur . Stockholm, 1948.

    17. Magnusson, Granlund, and Lundqvist. Sveriges Geologi . Stockholm, 1949.

    18. Meinardus, W. “Arktische Boden,” Handbuch der Bodenlehre , heraus–

    gegeben von E. Blanck. Berlin, 1930.

    19. Orvin, Anders K. “Hvordan oppstår jordbunnsis ?” Norsk Geogr .

    Tidsskr . 1941.

    013      |      Vol_VI-0600                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Holmsen: Soils of Svalbard and Northernmost Europe - Bibliography

    20. ----. “Litt om kilder på Svalbard,” Ibid . 1944.

    21. Resvoll-Holmsen, Hanna. “Om jordbunnstrukturer i polarlandene og

    planternes forhold til dem,” Nyt Magazin for Naturvidenska–

    berne, vol.47, 1909.

    22. ---. “Om Spitsbergen Plantevekst,” Naturen , 1910.

    23. Werenskiold, W. Fysisk Geografi . Oslo, 1943.


    Gunnar Holmsen

    Soils of the Eurasian Arctic.

    Unpaginated      |      Vol_VI-0601                                                                                                                  
    EA-Plant Sciences

    (C. C. Nikiforoff)




    Geological Structure 1
    Recent Glaciation 7
    Surface Formations 10
    Marine Sediments 10
    Morainic and Fluvioglacial Deposits 10
    Rock Land 10
    Stony Land 11
    Soil Characteristics 11
    Arctic Desert 12
    Tundra and Wooded Tundra 14
    Eurasian Arctic Islands 14
    Kolguev Island 16
    Novaya Zemlya 17
    Vaigach Island 20
    Severnaya Zemlya 21
    Novosibirskie Islands 22
    Wrangel Island 24
    Smaller Islands of the East Siberian Sea 25
    Islands of the Kara Sea 26
    Mainland of the Eurasian Arctic 27
    Bolshezemelskaia Tundra 32
    Iamal Peninsula 32
    Gydan Peninsula 33
    Taimyr Peninsula 34
    Bibliography 36

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    (C. C. Nikiforoff)




    Geological Structure

            Although geological structure of the Eurasian Arctic is little known,

    the general trend of at least the most recent period of geological history

    of this region gradually unfolds itself. It appears that in Pliocene time,

    and, probably in early Pleistocene, the northern coast of the Eurasian

    continent was located farther to the north than its present position. At

    that time most of the arctic islands in the Eastern Hemisphere, with the

    possible exception of Spitsbergen and Franz Josef Land, probably were not

    separated from the mainland.

            During the Pleistocene the western section of the northern part of

    the continent was subject to at least two glaciations, of which the older

    was more widespread and severe than the following. The later glaciation

    is still in progress, although geological records show that it is in an

    advanced stage of ablation. The ice shields on Spitsbergen, Franz Josef

    Land, Novaya Zemlya, Severnaya Zemlya, and other arctic islands are shrink–

    ing and represent the waning remnants of a greater glaciating which, however,

    did not extend to the mainland, being confined to the islands.

            During the earlier glaciation a large northern part of the west Siberian

    lowland, the entire Taimyr Peninsula, and the area which is now occupied by

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    the Kara Sea and the western part of the Laptev Sea, including Novaya Zemlya,

    Severnaya Zemlya, and other islands, presumably was covered by an immense

    continuous ice sheet. The evidence of such a glaciation is the occurrence

    throughout the glaciated part of the mainland of numerous erratic repre–

    senting the rocks of Novaya Zemlya.

            It is believed that sometimes during this period the broad coastal belt

    of the continent was depressed below seas level whether because of the heavy

    load the continent was depressed below sea level whether because of the heavy

    load of ice or owing to the general epeirogenic processes. Thus, melting of

    the ice was accompanied by the encroachment of the sea upon the land. The

    greater part of the inundated lowland is still under water.

            The continental shelf of Eurasia varies in width from about one hundred

    miles to more than three hundred miles. Its northern boundary has not yet

    been mapped along its entire length. The depth of the sea increase sharply

    at this margin from a few hundred feet to several thousands of feet.

            The highest mountains scattered throughout the shelf never were completely

    submerged, and formed islands including Spitsbergen, Franz Josef Land, Novaya

    Zemlya, and others, which originally were smaller and fewer than the present

    islands. Older islands were enlarged and now ones such as Kolguev and Belyi

    were formed by the subsequent uplift of the region and emergence here and

    there of the sea bottom. Thus, the low coastal flats adjacent to the rocky

    and rather craggy older parts of the islands rose above sea level.

            That the uplift of the region followed marine ingression is clearly

    shown by a series of well-preserved marine terraces on the shores of the

    arctic islands as well as on coast of the mainland. These terraces

    are covered by marine sediments containing fossils of marine fauna, largely

    mollusks, showing little or no difference from the contemporary fauna of the

    Eurasian arctic seas.

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            The highest known marine terraces on the north coast of the Taimyr

    Peninsula have an elevation of 360 feet (Berg). Similar terraces on

    Novaya Zemlya are much higher; on the southern island some of them have

    elevations of about 800 feet, whereas on the northern island remnants of

    terraces were found considerably above the 1.000-foot contour. According

    to Weise, some of them have an elevation of 420 meters, i.e., about 1,378

    feet. On Severnaya Zemlya some marine terraces have an elevation of about

    330 feet and those on Franz Josef Land are up to about 100 feet high,

    although marks of terracing were found several hundred feet above this

    level. These figures show the scope of the uplift.

            Sediments with well-preserved fossils of marine fauna and similar to

    those underlying the terraces are found throughout the Piasina-Khatanga

    depression which extends across the southern part of the Taimyr Peninsula

    from the estuary of the Yenisei to the estuary of the Khatanga River.

    Presumably, this depression is an immense graben flanked on the north by

    the steep, in places precipitous, cliffs of the Byrranga Plateau and on the

    south by cliffs of the mid-Siberian highland which gradually rises southward

    and merges with the Putorana “mountains.”

            The Byrranga Plateau forms the northern part of Taimyr. It has an

    elevation of about 1,500 to 2,000 feet in the highest part. It gradually

    slopes northward toward the coast of the Kara Sea, whereas its southern edge

    is formed by the fault 1,000 to 1,500 feet high facing the Piasina-Khatanga

    depression. The floor of this depression is deeply buried under glacial

    drifts overlain by assorted sands, gravel, and clay with fossils of marine

    fauna. Hence, it appears that before the uplift the entire depression was

    inundated, so that the northern part of Taimyr was an island, and still

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    earlier the entire region had been overrun by immense continental glaciers.

    In fact, the Byrranga Plateau, like the mountains of Novaya Zemlya, served

    as one of the centers of glaciation.

            The marine sediments which cover the submerged continental shelf, as

    well as marine terraces and other formerly submerged areas, such as the

    Pirasina-Khatanga depression, consist of bedded assorted clays and sands,

    the sands being the most common material of the upper strata. Gravelly

    and stony sediments are rather uncommon, and usually are found in restricted

    areas adjacent to the former or present coasts that are formed by the outcrops

    or bedrock, for example, on Kola Peninsula, on the eastern coast of Taimyr,

    and in many scattered areas on the arctic islands.

            These marine sediments, in turn, or at least their upper beds, are

    formed by a thorough reworking by the waves and marine currents of the

    glacial deposits left by the previous glaciation of the land before its

    subsidence and inundation. Undoubtedly, they include also a large proportion

    of alluvial material dumped into the arctic seas by the great rivers such as

    Pechora, Ob, Ye nisei, Khatanga, Lena, Iana, Indigirka, and Kolyma, and

    many smaller ones. Near the deltas and along the coast, in general, alluvial

    sediments predominate.

            In most places the assorted marine and alluvial sediments are underlain

    by unmodified morainic deposits showing that the major Pleistocene glaciation

    preceded the marine ingression. It is assumed that this ingression took

    place during the interglacial period of somewhat warmer climate which,

    apparently, caused melting of the ice and a general rise of the sea level.

    Thus, it is possible that encroachment of the sea upon the dry land was due

    in part to subsidence of the land through epeirogenic processes and in part

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    to the rise of sea level caused by the melt of continental glaciers.

            Some evidence of the warmer postglacial, better to say interglacial,

    period has been found in the ecological changes of the landscape. Berg

    states that “at one time the forests in the tundra extended much farther

    north than they do today. Evidence is found in the fact that the peat bogs

    of the typical tundra in many places contain stumps and trunks of firs, birches,

    and larches sometimes as far as 200 kilometers north of the present northern

    edge of the wooded tundra. The period during which the forest extended much

    farther north than it does today must have been the dry and relatively warm

    postglacial period (the so-called ‘xerothermic’ period).” (Berg, p.16.)

            Uplift of the region is still in process. Berg states that at Cape

    Cheliuskin on the Taimyr Peninsula are found fairly recent terraces having

    elevations of about ten feet and sixteen feet above sea level, which are

    covered with driftwood representing the common trees of the contemporary

    Siberian taiga. Similar terraces were found on Novaya Zemlya and on the

    Novosibirskie Islands. Again, Berg mentions that the Admiralteistva

    Peninsula on Novaya Zemlya was an island at the time of Barents and Litke,

    i.e., about two hundred years ago, and some other islands become peninsulas,

    whereas new islands appeared in places where previously there were none.

            Besides the general differential uplift, the land of the Eurasian

    Arctic was subject to considerable faulting, at least a part of which took

    presumably took place during the Pleistocens. Saks and Gorbatski state

    that “separation of many islands, their present configuration, orientation

    of the distribution of the elevated parts on the island — all appear as

    being conditioned largely by faulting that took place in Tertiary and

    Quaternary time and caused lifting and sinking of various block of the

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    of the earth’s crust.” (Wiese, et al, p. 54.)

            There are some indications that the island of Franz Josef Land

    represent remnants of an original plateau broken by a complicated system

    of radial faults with many grabens depressed below sea level and occupied

    by the straits. It is possible that various other groups of arctic islands,

    such as Spitsbergen, Severnaya Zemlya, and the Novosilbirskie Islands as

    well as Novaya Zemlya, have a similar origin. Quoting Urvantsev, Berg

    states that “Severnaya Zemlia attained its present features as a result

    of faulting which took place during the Tertiary and Quaternary periods.

    Until recently Severnaya Zemlia was connected with Taimyr, from which it

    became separated as a result of subsidence, which probably took place

    during the postglacial epoch.”

            All explorers of the Asiatic Arctic point out a conspicuous difference

    in the character of the arctic coast in western and eastern parts of

    Siberia. The great rivers of the western part (west of long. 115° E.),

    including Pechor, Ob, Taz, Yenisei, and Khatanga and in long but narrow

    bays which have all the characteristics of submerged valleys. All these

    rivers are building their deltas at the heads of their respective estuaries,

    which are hundreds of miles inland from the coast. It has been suggested

    that, before the inundation of the lower stretches of their valleys, the

    Taz River was a tributary of the Ob, whereas the latter could have had a

    common delta with the Yenisei. As contrasted with these, the great rivers

    of the eastern sector, including Lena, Iana, Indigirka, and Kolyma, reach

    the sea and build enormous typical deltas.

            There are various explanations of such a difference in geomorphology

    of the coast. It appears that most geologists favor the idea of a secondary

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    and fairly recent subsidence of the western sector of the coast, probably

    incident to the most recent reglaciation of the Arctic and chronologically

    subsequent to the major uplift which followed the earlier and greater

    marine transgression. The uplift of the arctic coast east of the 115th

    meridian, apparently, was not interrupted by the secondary subsidence.


    Recent Glaciation

            The last glaciation of the Arctic, still in progress, has not reached

    the degree of the preceding one. As has been stated, this glaciation did

    not spread into the mainland, being confined to the arctic islands. The

    largest single area covered with the thickest continuous ice sheet is in

    Greenland where the glacier reached latitude 60° N. The islands in the

    Eurasian sector of the Arctic which are affected by this glaciation include

    Spitsbergen, Franz Josef Land, Novaya Zemlya, Severnaya Zemlya, the Novosi–

    birskie Islands, and a number of smaller islands in various parts of the

    arctic seas.

            Many students of the Arctic are inclined to believe that this glacia–

    tion has already passed its peak, at least as regards the glaciation of

    individual islands, such as Novaya Zemlya or Severnaya Zemlya. It is

    assumed that the existing glaciers on these and many other Arctic islands

    are shrinking and represent the remnants of greater and thicker accumula–

    tions of ice. For example, Saks and Gorbatski state that wherever there

    are glaciers on the islands of the Soviet Arctic there are marks of the

    retreat of the ice (57). As regards Novaya Zemlya, these authors point

    out that the present southern boundary of glaciation is in the neighbor–

    hood of latitude 72° N. To the south of this line persist only isolated

    local remnants such as the Penk glacier. The ice sheet of Novaya Zemlya

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    shrinks quite rapidly. Hence, numerous nunataks are already exposed showing

    striation, presence of boulders, and various marks of glacial sculpturing

    of the land surface. Glacial formation, including cirques, troughs, and

    roches mountonnees , are particularly conspicuous throughout the middle part

    of Novaya Zemlya which now is practically free of continental glaciers. It

    should be remembered, however, that not all these marks of glaciation are

    necessarily the product of the last and rather weak glaciation. In Pleisto–

    cene time Novaya Zemlya was completely overrun by a much stronger glaciation

    and a large part of its erosion and sculpturing probably is due to this

    earlier glaciation.

            Glaciers of arctic islands have the shape of gently domed ice shields.

    Some islands still are completely covered with ice. At the peak of glaciation

    very likely many other islands were similarly buried under ice. Each island

    or group of closely located island had its own “center of glaciation” from

    which the ice flowed radially toward the coasts. Reaching the sea the ice

    broke away to form icebergs, leaving precipitous ice cliffs all along the

    periphery similar to those on Victoria Island. Hence, virtually all rock

    waste loosened and triturated by creeping ice was carried into the sea,

    with very little of this material left to build up ground moraines on the islands

    themselves. Formation of terminal moraines and similar glacial structures

    seldom occurred on most islands.

            Only after retreat o the ice front from the coasts and considerable

    shrinkage of the glaciers did deposition of glacial debris on the islands

    become possible. Even now, however, many insular glaciers, like those on

    Spitsbergen, Franz Josef Land, Novaya Zemlya, and Severnaya Zemlya, either

    reach and coast or send out tongues descending through troughs to the heads

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    of fjords and inlets, they continue to discharge the drifts into the sea,

    where they are reassorted by the waves and coastal currents and incorporated

    into littoral marine sediments. This caused the general scarcity of glacial

    and fluvioglacial sediments on most arctic islands.

            Presumably somewhat similar conditions prevailed throughout the arctic

    coast of the mainland west of the White Sea, i.e., on the Kola Peninsula and

    in the northernmost part of Scandinavia, as well as in other regions in which

    the local centers of glaciation were not far from the coast and from which the

    ice flowed into the sea.

            It appears very likely that the latest glaciation did not extend into the

    eastern part of the Eurasian Arctic. Saks and Gorbatski state that at the

    present time “the Franz Josef Land is almost entirely covered with ice. On

    Novaya Zemlia nearly one-half of the northern island is under the ice, while

    on Severnaya Zemlia, which is in higher latitudes than Novaya Zemlia, more

    than one-half of the total area of the islands is free of ice. There are no

    glaciers on Novaya Sibir’; small glaciers are found only on the islands of

    the De Long archipelago. Farther to the east, On Wrangell Island the glaciers

    are quite insignificant. Hence, a decrease in intensity of glaciation from

    west to east is obvious. Undoubtedly, it depends upon the change in climate,

    especially the decrease in the amount of precipitation in the same direction.”

            Glacial deposits in the eastern part of the Eurasian Arctic are consider–

    ably less common than in the western part; and those which are found locally

    are probably the products of earlier Pleistocene glaciations. The relative

    age of morainic materials, however, is rather an academic question, because

    many details of glacial history of the region, including the boundary of the

    latest glaciation, are still unknown.

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    Surface of Formations

            Speaking in broad terms, the most common surface formations in the

    Eurasian Arctic represent the following four groups:

            Marine Sediments . These sediments, consisting of bedded marine clays

    and sands, cover nearly level or gently sloping coastal flats, ranging in

    elevation above sea level from a few feet to several tens of feet, and

    somewhat higher marine terraces. Much of this land, especially on broad

    coastal flats, is boggy, studded with numberless small and usually shallow

    lakes, which may occupy in some places more than half of the area.

            Morainic and Fluvioglacial Deposits . These are more common in formerly

    glaciated parts of the mainland, especially throughout the arctic coast from

    the eastern coast of the White Sea to the estuary of the Yenisei River.

    Throughout the wide Piasina-Khatanga depression and morainic material is

    largely overlain by marine sediments. Here and there, however, the marine

    sediments are absent and boulder morainic clays and clay loams are uncovered.

    Scattered throughout the depression are faily well-defined hilly terminal

    moraines, some of which probably were high enough to escape submergence

    during the marine ingression. In other parts of Eurasian Arctic, including

    most of the island, morainic deposits are rather scant.

            Except for chains and belts of terminal moraines, most of the land

    underlain by the ground moraines is relatively level of undulating. Much

    of it is boggy. Lakes are numerous, many of them are in various stages

    of being overgrown and replaced by peat bogs.

            Rock Land . Bare or nearly bare rock land from which virtually all loose

    material has been stripped by the glaciers, wind, or water, is a common

    feature of mountainous regions throughout the Arctic, especially on the

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    northernmost islands. Some smaller arctic islands are nothing more than

    bare rocks rising from the sea. On the mainland bare rock land is more

    common on high, rugged coasts, such as those in northern Scandinavia, on

    the Taimyr Peninsula, especially on its eastern coast, and throughout the

    Chukotsk Peninsula. As would be expected, rock land does not occupy large

    continuous areas, but occurs locally in combination with various other

    surface formations.

            Stony Land . Stony land may be underlain by a rather thin layer of

    coarse residual regolith resting on bedrock. In places this layer consists

    or rock fragments of various sizes with very little if any finer material.

    More commonly, however, fragments of rocks are imbedded in clayey matrix,

    especially at some distance below the surface. On the surface in many

    places is formed a sheet of broken stones somewhat similar to the desert

    pavement or armor so common throughout the deserts in lower latitudes. This

    kine of surface formation is typical of flattish mountain tops, plateaus,

    and more or less gently sloping and undulating land with bedrock near the

    surface. It is more common throughout unglaciated regions in the eastern

    part of the Eurasian Arctic, although fairly large areas covered by residual

    stony regolith are found in other parts, especially in the mountainous regions.


    Soil Characteristics

            The soils throughout the greater part of the Eurasian Arctic are affected

    by perennial ground frost (permafrost). Freezing fastens the unconsolidated

    material, whether residual or sedimentary, to the underlying bedrock. The

    grip of the frost is relaxed for a few months, during the short and generally

    cool summer, only in a thin layer on the surface. The thickness of such a

    layer seldom exceeds a few feet, in may many places it is even less than a foot.

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    Below this layer the ground is frozen to a depth of many feet, in places

    more than a thousand feet. This ground may consist of solid rocks, residual

    rock debris, or marine, glacial, or alluvial sediments, Deep freezing is

    common to all these materials; and as most of them contain enough water

    to fill up the void space with ice, and thus solidify the un consolidated

    regoliths, virtually all soils of the Eurasian Arctic might be described as

    shallow soils overlying solidly frozen rocky substrata, irrespective of the

    thickness of various geological formations from which they develop.

            In reference to the more specific characted of the arctic soils, the

    entire region may be divided into three broad belts — arctic desert, tree–

    less arctic tundra, and the subarctic or partly wooded tundra.

            Characteristic of the arctic tundra is the scarcity and in places

    the virtual absence of vegetation. On bare rock land and stony land in the

    arctic desert only a few lichens can survive. On morainic plains and marine

    terraces some mosses and a few herbaceous plants, mostly sedges, grow in

    patches here and there, usually along the shores of lakes and streams and in

    depressions in which some snow might be caught in winter to protect the

    plants from frost.

            Arctic Desert . The arcti d c desert on the mainland is confined to

    isolated mountainous areas, chiefly in the eastern part of the Eurasian

    Arctic, especially on the Chukotsk Peninsula. Most arctic islands, with

    the exception of a few more southern ones, such as Kolguev, the southern

    island of Novaya Zemlya, and Vaigach, are in this belt.

            The soils throughout this belt are rudimentary. They have not been

    examined and described in detail, and no data as to their composition are

    available. Our information about them is limited to a few general statements

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    made by various workers of Soviet polar stations who attempted to grow

    some vegetables. At the end of 1947 more than 80 stations were maintained

    along the Northern Sea Route. Some of them are on the coast of the mainland,

    predominantly at the mouths of the larger rivers such as Pechora, Ob, Yenisei,

    Khatanga, Lena, Indigirka, and Kolyma; others are built on bleak arctic

    islands such as Novaya Zemlya, Belyi, Uedinenia, Russkii, Bolshoi, and

    Kotelnyi. The personnel of these stations ranges from three to several scores

    of people. At various stations attempts are bie being made to maintain green–

    houses and hotbeds in order to provide the personnel with some fresh vegetables.

    Following are a few extracts from reports on the early experience of these


            The polar station at Russkaia Gavan, on the west coast of the northern

    island of Novaya Zemlya, reported: “We attempted to do a little farming and

    decided to grow some onions and potatoes. The main difficulty was in the

    lack of good soil. We searched the area around the station having a radius

    of about five kolometers and, with great difficulty, collected by handfuls a

    small amount of dirt, mixed it with dungs, filled up a box and planted [ ?]

    six bulbs of onions. Rays of northern sun and great care of “the plantation’

    rewarded us for our labor: green onions grew tall and juicy. We did not wait

    too long and had a feast….” (Sov. Arktika, 1940, 5:80.)

            Somewhat similar reports came from the station at Providence on the

    Chuktosk Peninsula. There several greenhouses were under construction. The

    workers reported that the soil at Providenie is hardly more than 1 1/2 to 2

    inches thick, and even this is mixed with rubble and other coarse debris. It

    was necessary to scratch the ground and screen the dirt. Two men, working

    from nine to ten hours a day, in four and a half days were able to collect

    014      |      Vol_VI-0615                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Nikiforoff: Soils of the Eurasian Arctic

    only a little more than four cubic yards of poor dirt which had to be mixed

    with lime, mineral fertilizers, and manure to be of any use. Somewhat later

    they found along the banks of a stream small eight- to ten-inch accumulations

    of sand, silt, and clay and moved it to their farm. Several cubic yards of

    this “soil” were shipped to the station on Wrangel Island where other green–

    houses were built.

            One of the largest polar stations at Tiksi near the mouth of Lena River

    also had to ship the soil for its greenhouses from Yukutsk, which is nearly

    a thousand miles to the south. These simple reports give a fairly clear idea

    of the general character and condition of the soils in the polar belt of the

    Eurasian Arctic.

            Tundra and Wooded Tundra. The economic value of soils of the arctic

    tundra and the wooded tundra, which represent the second and third physiographic

    belts respectively, is not much higher than that of the soils of arctic desert.

    The tundra woils, however, are somewhat better developed and more diversified.

    No systematic survey of the soils of any part of the tundra has been made, and

    our information about these soils is very scanty and superficial. Descriptions

    of the tundra soils in various reports are limited to a few broad general

    statements, and even these statements are largely theoretical; therefore,

    little can be said about soil conditions in individual regions of the Arctic.


    Eurasian Arctic Islands

            Franz Josef Land is a group of several faily large islands and probably

    not less than a hundred small ones. The combined area of all islands is about

    7,000 square miles. About 90% of this area is covered by thick ice, leaving

    only a few hundred square miles of bare land. Most of this land is in narrow

    strips stretching along the shores of the larger islands, and only a small

    015      |      Vol_VI-0616                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Nikiforoff: Soils of the Eurasian Arctic

    part of it is formed by nunataks protruding here and there through the ice

    sheet. The thickness of ice in some places is more than 500 feet. Some

    smaller islands are completely covered with ice and in the inner parts of

    the archipelago the ice covers groups of islands as well as the narrow

    straits between them.

            Some coasts of islands are fairly high and in places precipitous, being

    formed by outcrops of basalts or various sedimentary rocks. In other places

    the coasts are low, forming the edges of fairly wide coastal lowlands or

    young marine terraces. Dissection of land by running water is quite insig–

    nificant. The area that is not occupied by the glacier is much too small

    for the development of concentrated streams. Most of the short “ravines” cut

    on high coasts were excavated largely by the glaciers descending from the

    plateau to the sea. Some of these glacial troughs were cut below sea level

    and now are occupied by narrow bays. In general, however, the shores of

    most islands are little dissected and typical fiords are absent.

            Wherever the bedrock is not covered with ice a thin mantle of regolith

    is being formed, especially by the frost splitting and wind corrosion of rocks

    exposed to the polar climate. Steeply sloping outcrops of bedrock are

    stripped even of this mantle. The loose and generally coarse material is

    carried to the base of cliffs and accumulates on the gentler slopes, in short

    U-shaped ravines and other depressions.

            The lowlands along the coasts and terraces are built largely of sandy

    marine sediments. The unmodified glacial and fluvioglacial deposits are

    less common, although here and there these materials are interbedded with

    marine clays and sand, and in a few places form patches over the bedrock.

            Firtually all soils on the archipelago are frozen, and thaw during summer

    016      |      Vol_VI-0617                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Nikiforoff: Soils of the Eurasian Arctic

    only to a depth of a foot or a foot and a half.

            Vegetation is very scant; on rocky coasts there are only a few lichens.

    In some ravines, however, a few species of flowering plants such as arctic

    poppy and buttercup, some sedges, and occasionally low clumps of dwarf polar

    willow may survive. Scattered patches of low coastal flats are occupied by

    predominantly bare polygonal tundra. Small lakes and ponds, mostly oval,

    are numerous.

            Kolguev Island has an area of about 1,440 square miles and is separated

    from the mainland by a strait about 45 miles wide. The island is practically

    surrounded by shallow waters and wide sand bars. In a few places, mostly on

    the southern and southeastern coasts, there are some gravelly beaches. Its

    shores, however, are undercut by waves and are faily high and precipitous,

    especially on the east coast where the cliffs are up to 100 and in places

    150 feet high.

            In general, Kolguev is a rather low island built entirely of loose

    unasserted glacial drift and marine sediments. No bedrock is exposed anywhere

    on the island or its banks. Marine and glacial deposits are predominantly

    sandy. Morainic boulder clays and clay loams are less common.

            The highest part of the island, marking up about two-thirds of the entire

    area, stretches through the middle part from southwest to northeast. It has

    an elevation of about 200 to or 300 feet and is formed by groups of low,

    presumably morainic hills that are arranged in three roughly parallel chains.

    The hills range in relative elevation above the surrounding plain from less

    than 100 to about 200 feet. Most of them are built of laminated, and in places

    boulder, morainic sands. Less common are hills built or boulder clays. The

    highest point on the island is Savande’s Hill in the northeastern part.

    017      |      Vol_VI-0618                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Nikiforoff: Soils of the Eurasian Arctic

    It has an absolute elevation of about 550 feet.

            The main streams, of which the largest is the Peschanka (Sandy) River,

    run between these morainic ridges in rather narrow but fairly deep valleys.

            North and south of the elevated middle part of Kolguev are nearly level

    areas of coastal lowland ranging in elevation above sea level from about

    10 feet to about 30 or 40 feet. The lowland on the southern coast is in

    places more than 12 miles wide and slopes toward the sea so gently that it

    appears most perfectly flat. The lowland on the northern coast is somewhat

    less extensive. Both these lowlands, locally called lapta , are formed by

    geologically very young marine terraces and are built largely of sandy marine

    sediments. They are studded with a great many small and shallow lakes in

    every imaginable stage of overgrowth with mosses and sedges.

            Some of the lakes are glacial, others are remnants of old marine lagoons,

    and still others are formed by flooding of local depressions with melt water,

    the drainage of which is made impossible by solid freezing of the subsoil.

    The largest lake is Peschanoe (Sandy Lake) in the eastern part of the island.

            The entire island is occupied by mossy tundra. Both coastal flats are

    boggy; many former lakes are replaced by peat bogs. Rather sandy bog soil with

    a thin layer of fibrous peat underlain with bluish-gray subsoil is the most

    common type on both coasts. Some tide marshes, low deltas, and old filled-up

    lagoons are occupied, at least in part, by peculiar arctic solonchak (salind soil).

            The soils in the middle and higher part of the island are better drained

    and generally somewhat better oxidized. Some of these soils on morainic sandy

    hills were referred to as very weakly podsolic soils.

            Novaya Zemlya consists of two large islands, Severnyi and Iuzhnyi

    (Northern and Southern), which are separated from one another by the narrow

    018      |      Vol_VI-0619                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Nikiforoff: Soils of the Eurasian Arctic

    63-mile-long Matochkin Shar (strait), and several smaller islands. The

    largest among these smaller islands is Mezhcusharskii Island having an

    area of about 300 square miles and located near the western coast of the

    southern island.

            The northern and southern islands form a broad arch separating the

    Barents Sea from the Kara Sea. Its length is nearly 600 miles and it

    ranges in width from about 40 miles to about 70 miles. The combined area

    of Novaya Zemlya is approximately 35,000 square miles, The combined area

    of Novaya Zemlya of which about 20,000 square miles represent the area of

    the northern island.

            Nearly one-fourth of this area is covered with a thick ice sheet which

    occupies a large part, probably half, of the northern island. The average

    thickness of ice is several hundreds of feet and the maximum thickness is

    more than 1,000 feet. South of latitude 74° N. there are only small local

    glaciers — rapidly shrinking remnants of formerly more extensive glaciation.

            Novaya Zemlya is a mountainous country. The southernmost part of it is

    the lowest. The greater part of the southern island, up to about the latitude

    of Bezimennaia Bay, is merely a hilly plain; in the extreme south, the

    relief is more or less featureless. A large part of the country is occupied

    by numerous small lakes and bogs. The average elevation is in the neighbor–

    hood of 200 or 300 feet. Elevation gradually increases northward so that in

    the middle part of the island at about latitude 72° N. it exceeds 1,000 feet

    and locally is even more than 1,500 feet. From this middle part the country

    slopes rather gently eastward and westward, both slopes being fairly well

    dissected by erosional valleys.

            On both sides of Matochkin Shar, mountains reach an elevation of about

    019      |      Vol_VI-0620                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Nikiforoff: Soils of the Eurasian Arctic

    2,000 ot 3,000 feet and the relief acquires alpine character owing to

    dissection of the original massif by numerous deep valleys. The greater

    part of the northern island is occupied by mountains, of which most promi–

    nent is Lomosov Range on the northern coast, with a maximum elevation of

    about 3,500 feet (Blednaia Mountain in the neighborhood of Mae’s Bay).

    On the extreme north of Navaya Zemlya the country slopes toward the sea

    in a series of well-defined marine terraces characterized by a conspicuous

    absence of any marks or traces of glaciation.

            The coasts of Novaya Zemlya are severely dissected by erosion. Deep

    fjords, some of which are more than 15 or 20 miles long, are numerous and

    increase the length of the shore line to almost 3,000 miles. Steep, rocky

    cliffs rising from the sea, however, are not a typical feature of Novaya

    Zemlya. According to Gorbatski and Saks, the shores of Novaya Zemlya

    usually are flanked by stretches of coastal flats which in places are several

    miles wide and range in elevation from 30 to more than 50 feet. These flats

    obviously represent the most recent marine terraces.

            The northern island of Novaya Zemlya is entirely in the belt of arctic

    desert. Most of its middle part is covered with ice. Only narrow stretches

    of rocky land along the coast and occasional nunataks are free of ice, although

    numerous valley glaciers radiate from the central ice sheet and descend to

    the heads of fjords and bays to form small icebergs. In one place on the

    Kara Sea coast, however, the ice sheet reaches the shore and forms a continuous

    sheet of ice (the Nordenskiöld glacier) about 60 miles long.

            A large part of the land that is not occupied by glaciers consists of

    bare outcrops of bedrock, including Cambrian, Silurian, and Devonian formations.

    Probably the most common rocks are represented by the lower Silurian limestones,

    020      |      Vol_VI-0621                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Nikiforoff: Soils of the Eurasian Arctic

    sandstones, and conglomerates. Local accumulations of coarse morainic

    materials, especially in valleys, are not uncommon. Here and there are

    scattered small terminal and border moraines. The coastal flats are

    built of marine sediments and occupied by the polygonal tundra.

            The southern part of Novaya Zemlya including most of the southern

    island, is in the arctic tundra belt. Mossy tundra is the most conspicuous

    feature of the landscape. Only in the extreme south are there areas overgrown

    by shrubs. Outcrops of bedrock are common, especially along the coasts,

    although most of the hilly plains and coastal lowland and underlain by

    morainic (largely clayey) materials and marine sediments. The dominant

    soil is of a poorly oxidized peaty tundra type. Peat cover usually is rather

    thin, ranging in thickness form a few to about 10 inches, and is underlain

    by gray or bluish-gray materials, in places mottled with rusty stains.

    Some local soils developing on the better-drained slopes of hills, especially

    those soils from sandy materials, have been classified as very weakly pod–

    solized soils. Such a classification, however, is rather doubtful. Generally,

    few soils thaw to a depth greater than 2 feet during summer. In most places

    maximum thickness of the defrosted topsoil ranges between 10 and 20 inches.

            Vaigach Island is located between the southern tip of Novaya Zemlya

    and the mainland. It is about 65 or 70 miles long and some 30 miles wide;

    its area is 1,300 square miles. It is separated from Novaya Zemlya by the

    wide strait Karskie Vorota, and from the mainland by the much narrower

    Yugorskii Shar. The surface of Vaigach is more or less level, the highest

    point on the island has an elevation of about 300 feet. The entire area

    is occupied by typical mossy and rather boggy tundra with numerous small

    lakes and peat bogs. The soils are predominantly clayey.

    021      |      Vol_VI-0622                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Nikiforoff: Soils of the Eurasian Arctic

            Severnaya Zemlya archipelago includes four fairly large islands —

    Komsomolets, Pioneer, October Revolution, and Bolshevik — as well as

    many small ones. The combined area of all these islands is about 14,000

    square miles. Roughly about 40% of this area is occupied by glaciers having

    a thickness up to several hundred of feet. Information about these islands

    is meager. It appears that a fairly large part of the whole area is occupied

    by low mountains, the highest of which probably have an elevation of a little

    over 2,000 feet. The northern part of Komsomolets Island is a fairly level

    lowland. Presumably the western part of October Revolution Island and the

    northern part of Bolshevik Island have similar character. Hence, the coasts

    of the islands are partly high and steep and partl l y low, consisting of broad,

    gently sloping marine terraces with edge undercut by waves.

            Forms of relief trh throughout Severnaya Zemlya appear to be somewhat

    smoothed by movements of ice, and later by the glacial melt water. A large

    part, probably by far the greater part, of these islands is covered with a

    fairly thick mantle of morainic material and fluvioglacial deposits, and the

    remaining part by assorted marine sediments. Glacial deposits consists largely

    of boulder clays and clay loams. Outcrops of bedrock are perhaps not uncommon

    on high coasts and in mountainous areas, but the total area of rock land and

    stony land appears to be very small. Marine sediments underlying the coastal

    lowland consist predominantly of sands and loamy sands.

            The entire archipelago is in the belt of arctic desert. Vegetation is

    very scant and a large part of the land is virtually bare. Most of the coastal

    lowlands and undulating plains farther inaldn inland are occupied by typical

    polygonal tundra. Here vegetation is somewhat richer than throughout the

    inner parts of the islands, although it still consists predominantly of mosses

    022      |      Vol_VI-0623                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Nikiforoff: Soils of the Eurasian Arctic

    and lichens with very few flowering plants, and is confined almost entirely

    to patches and “garlands” surrounding the bare polygons.

            Novosibirskie Islands include five fairly large islands — Kotelnyi,

    Faddeievskii, Novaya Sibir, Bolshoi, Liakhovskii, and Malyi Liakhovskii —

    and several smaller ones. The combined area of the entire group is about

    14,000 square miles. The islands are separated from the mainland by the wide

    Dmitrii Lapev Strait. Between Kotelnyi and Faddeivskii islands is an

    expansive sandbank which generally is dry but is subject of flooding when

    water rises above the ordinary level. This is the area locally called

    Ulakhan-Kumakh, butbetter known as Bunge Land. When it is dry, Kotelnyii

    and Faddeievskii become one island with a very low and sandy middle part.

            All islands of this group are low and have a rather featureless relief.

    The highest point on Kotelnyi Island has an elevation of about 750 feet.

    Elevation of the highest points on Faddeievskii and Novaya Sibir is only

    about 250 and 260 feet, and that on Malyi Liakhovskii is probably less

    than 200 feet.

            By far the greater part of the area of these islands is covered by

    Pleistocene and post-Pleistocene marine, lacustrine, and deluvial sediments.

    It appears that typical morainic materials are absent. A peculiar feature

    of this region is a widespread occurrence of fossil ice under a thin

    mantle of recent sediments. It has been reported that in some places

    the thickness of fossil ice is great than 200 feet. It is assumed that

    this ice could have been formed during the glacial ages by accumulation in

    valleys and depressions of neve which subsequently was covered by layers

    of deluvium and thus protected against melting.

            The outcrops of bedrock are rather few. They occur in widely spaced

    023      |      Vol_VI-0624                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Nikiforoff: Soils of the Eurasian Arctic

    “mountainous” areas which presumably represent the remnants of strongly

    eroded old horsts. On Bolshoi Liakhovskii Island there are two roughly

    parallel ridges stretching along the northern and southern coasts. It is

    believed that these ridges are remnants of two horsts. Between them is a

    wide graben in which the deposits of fossil ice and particularly conspicuous.

    Throughout this general depression or graben there are numerous closed local

    depressions or hollows separated from one another by massive barriers built

    of fossil ice. The difference in elevation between the divide and the

    bottom of the depression may be more than 50 or 60 feet. The eathy mantle

    over the ice on the divides is rather thin, whereas accumulations of mud in

    depressions may attain considerable thickness. It is assumed that these

    depressions are formed by uneven melting of fossil ice and are gradually

    filled up with mud washed into them from the surrounding divides. Thus,

    thickness of sediments above the ice becomes very uneven and if the ice melts

    completely, then on the site of former dperessions appear fairly high mounds

    or baidzharakh . These various thermocarst formation are very common

    throughout the Novosibirskii Archipelago.

            The entire archipelago is in the belt of arctic desert, and its vege–

    tation is very scant. Typical poorly drained, polygonal tundra is the most

    conspicuous feature of the landscape; the low parts of the northernmost

    island are especially poorly drained and boggy. The greater part of Faddeievskii

    and nearly all of Novaya Sibir are covered by marine sediments. Hence, it

    appears likely that the ground on these islands is somewhat more sandy than

    on other islands. Wherever bedrock outcrops the land is covered by coarse,

    stony regoliths. Such, probably, is the case on the southern coast of

    Bolshoi Liakhovskii Island.

    024      |      Vol_VI-0625                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Nikiforoff: Soils of the Eurasian Arctic

            Wrangel Island is about 90 miles long from east to west and some 40 miles

    wide. It has an area of about 3,000 square miles. The middle part of the

    island, extending along its long axis, is occupied by the range formed by

    more or less smoothly rounded mountains. The highest is Sovetskaya Mountain,

    having an elevation of about 3,600 feet. Several other mountains range in

    elevation from about 2,000 feet to about 2,500 feet. On the northern and

    southern coasts are fairly wide stretches of level lowland bordered by

    numerous sandbanks and bars and shallow lagoons. The space between the

    coastal lowlands and the middle mountains range is occupied by low, gently

    rounded hills ranging in elevation from a few hundred feet to about 1,500

    feet. The southern belt of these hills probably represents remnants of a

    moderately dissected plateau. The western and especially the eastern shores

    of the island are high and rather steep.

            The northern lowland is occupied by the sol-called Tundra of the Academy

    of Sciences. It elevation at the contact with the foothills of the moun–

    tainous belt is about 150 feet and from there is slopes very gently toward

    the sea. The entire flat is occupied by polygonal tundra with numerous small

    lakes and streams. The ground is predominantly gravelly clay. Vegetation

    consists largely of mosses and lichens along streams between the adjacent

    bare polygons. In the eastern part of this tundra up to 70% of the surface

    is bare. The maximum thawing in summer extends to a depth of about 15 to 20

    inches on bare spots, and probably not more than half of this under moss.

            Most of the southern lowland is occupied also by stony polygonal tundra.

    Here, however, there are some areas overgrown with lichens, leaving practically

    no bare spots. Similar lichen tundras are common throughout the middle part

    of the island, especially on gentle southern slopes of mountains. Soils on

    025      |      Vol_VI-0626                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Nikiforoff: Soils of the Eurasian Arctic

    these slopes are affected by solifluction which is in places strong enough

    to produce a peculiar terracing of the sloping land.

            Vegetation is somewhat richer in the valleys on alluvial deposits.

    Here and there in these valleys are scattered small areas overgrown with

    drawf polar willow.

            Smaller Islands of the East Siberian Sea . This group includes about

    a dozen small islands each having an area of a few square miles. Five of

    these islands, Jeannette, Henrietta, Bennett, Zhokhova, and Vilkitskii, form

    the De Long Islands. Another group of six islands in the region of the mouth

    of Kolyma River are called Medvezhii or Bear Islands. The easternmost of

    these small islands is Herald Island located some 50 miles east of Wrangel


            All these islands are rocky, formed by blocks of hard rocks (granite or

    basalt), rising from the sea. Their banks are predominantly high and in

    many places precipitous. On some islands, however, small sandy and gravelly

    low areas are attached to the high rocky cliffs.

            Herald Island is about 5 miles long and a mile or a mile and a half wide.

    It is formed by a block of granitic rock rising about 300 to 400 feet above

    sea level. Its banks are steep, mostly precipitous, and the surface consists

    of relatively level areas and a few rocky hills having an absolute elevation

    of some 800 to 1,000 feet. Most of the surface is covered with loose [ ?]

    fragments of broken rocks. Here and there are patches of mossy or lichen

    tundra on stony substratum.

            Medvezhii (Bear) Islands, like Herald Island, and formed by granitic

    rocks rising from the sea. The best-explored of these islands is Chetyrekh–

    stolbovoi Island which is about 6 miles long and hardly more than a mile and

    026      |      Vol_VI-0627                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Nikiforoff: Soils of the Eurasian Arctic

    a half wide. The highest point on this island has an elevation of about

    300 feet. Actually it is formed by two islands connected by a narrow, low

    sand bar. The surface of the island is covered by fragments of rock with

    hardly any finer material. Some banks are high and steep, others are low.

    In some places low, sandy areas are adjacent to rocky cliffs; here are

    patches of boggy polygonal tundra. Others islands of this group have similar


            De Long Islands are formed largely by blocks of basaltic rocks. Their

    rocky banks are high and in many places precipitous. Some cliffs on Bennett

    Island are nearly 1,000 feet high. The surface usually is covered by broken

    rocks. A certain part of Bennett Island and almost the whole of Henrietta

    Island, the latter having an area of some 5 square miles, are occupied by

    glaciers — probably the only large glaciers found in the eastern part of

    the Eurasian Arctic. Here and there along the shores of these islands are

    narrow gravelly or sandy beaches and occasional small areas of coastal low–

    land occupied by polygonal tundra.

            Islands of the Kara Sea. Throughout the Kara Sea are scattered many small,

    low islands which presumably were formed by a relatively recent uplift of the

    sea bottom. With a few exceptions they are built of marine sediment, are

    rather flat, and have steep shores undercut by waves. They include Vize

    Island, some 12 or 15 miles long, Uedinenia having an area of about 16 square

    miles, somewhat larger Belyi Island having an elevation of some 30 or 40 feet,

    several other equally low islands near the coast of the mainland, a group of

    Kirov Islands, another group of Islands of Arctic Institute, and others.

    Practically all these islands are occupied by monotonous polygonal tundra.

    The northernmost of them is Ushakov Island, almost entirely covered with ice.

    027      |      Vol_VI-0628                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Nikiforoff: Soils of the Eurasian Arctic


    Mainland of the Eurasian Arctic

            The main part of the continental division of the Eurasian Arctic is

    formed by an immense coastal lowland which extends from the eastern shores

    of the White Sea to the delta of the Khatanga River. The width of this

    belt is greatest in the northwestern Corner of Siberia, i.e., between the

    northern Ural Range and the Yenisei River, and decreases with distance east–

    ward and westward.

            The widest part of this belt is divided by the estuaries of the great

    Siberian rivers into a series of peninsulas — Iamal, Taz, Gydan, and Taimyr.

    The Iamal Peninsula, which is wholly in the arctic belt, is about 600 miles

    in length along its meridional axis. East of the estuary of the Khatanga

    River the continental arctic belt narrows so that in the region of the delta

    of the Kolyma River its width is only a few tens of miles. (The name of a

    settlement near the mouth of Kolyma is Krai Lesov which means “the border

    of forests,” a boundary between the taiga and tundra.)

            Throughout this belt of lowland are scattered isolated massifs or blocks

    of higher land. The largest of these blocks are the Byrranga Plateau, which

    occupies the northern part of Taimyr, and the Pai-Khoi Range which forms the

    northernmost extension of the Urals. Considerably smaller and lower are the

    Pronchischev Range between the mouths of the Anabar and Olenek rivers, and the

    Chekanovski Range west of the delta of the Lean. Elevations of highest points

    in the former are of the order of 500 or 600 feet and those of the latter

    1,000 to about 1,500 feet.

            East of the Kolyma the coastal belt is occupied by the northern slopes of

    the Aniui, Anadyr, and Chukotsk Mountains. The Anadyr range is the highest.

            The westernmost part of the Eurasian Arctic coast also is predominantly

    028      |      Vol_VI-0629                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Nikiforoff: Soils of the Eurasian Arctic

    mountainous. The northern part of the Kanin Peninsula is occupied by

    the Kanin-Kaman Range with elevations up to 500 or 600 feet. The Murman

    Coast on the Kola Peninsula is a dissected plateau having an elevation of

    about 400 to 600 feet and dropping rather sharply to the sea. Elevation

    of the coastal mountains increases westward to more than 2,000 feet in

    the northernmost part of Scandinavia.

            Mountains at both ends of the Eurasian arctic coast are built of hard

    rocks. Their summits and steeper slopes are virtually bare. Flattened tops,

    gentler slopes, and other similar areas are largely covered with coarse frag–

    ments of broken rocks. Only in ravines, valleys, and local depressions are

    found deposits of more thoroughly comminuted and weathered materials, in–

    cluding glacial drifts and fluvioglacial or alluvial sediments. Most of

    these materials are stony or gravelly. Hence, a large part of these regions,

    if not the greater part, is virtually devoid of any soils in the true sense

    of this word. Tundra soils throughout the arctic mountains are confined

    predominantly to the valleys and depressions. Parent materials of these

    soils may be mechanically assorted or heterogeneous. Their earthy part

    ranges in texture from almost pure gravel or coarse sand to clay. Practically

    all these soils develop under condition of impeded internal drainage, and

    therefore are very weakly or not all oxidized.

            The coastal lowland is usually divided, according to its soil and

    floristic characteristics, into three belts: arctic tundra, which represents

    the southernmost part of the arctic desert; tundra proper, or “typical”

    tundra, including mossy, grassy, and shrubby tundras, and the wooded tundras.

    These floristic land types are not confined to the lowland; essentially the

    same mossy, shrubby, or wooded tundras occupy the valleys, foothills, and

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    EA-PS. Nikiforoff: Soils of the Eurasian Arctic

    gentler slopes of the mountains throughout the arctic belt. The distribu–

    tion of these various types of tundra in the mountainous regions is very

    patchy rather than continuous as on the lowland.

            Nearest to the coast is the flattest and the lowest belt of arctic

    tundra. It varies in width from a few miles to several scores of miles.

    In some places it is almost perfectly level but usually it slopes gently

    toward the sea. Almost everywhere it is studded with innumerable small

    and usually shallow lakes which may or may not be interconnected by sluggish

    channels. In places lakes occupy probably more than half of the area and

    it appears that water fills to the rim every available depression having

    no outlet.

            By far the greater part of this belt is underlain by marine sediments.

    Marine sands and sandy materials predominate in the western division of

    the arctic coast, especially between the mouths of the Pechora and Yenisei

    rivers. East of the Yenisei, especially between the Khatanga estuary and

    the delta of the Lena River marine clays are probably more common than sands.

            Unmodified and unassorted morainic materials are relatively less common

    throughout this belt, and occur locally in the relatively higher parts which

    are removed from the coast. River terraces and deltas, especially the immense

    delta of the Lena, are built of finer silty and clayey alluvial sediments.

    Numerous low islands which form the Lena Delta are covered with fairly thick

    layers of peat. Most of this area, however, is overgrown with mosses and

    lichens, and contains numerous flat boggy and grassy depressions and shallow

    lakes. Throughout other parts of the belt peat is uncommon. Polygonal tundra

    represents the most conspicuous feature of the landscape throughout the entire


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    EA-PS. Nikiforoff: Soils of the Eurasian Arctic

            According to Suslov, “Arctic tundra is characterized by a considerable

    weakening of the soil forming process, absence of shrubby and sphagnum-moss

    bogs, and widespread occurrence of polygonal tundra. Soil formation in the

    Arctic is characterized by the predominance of physical weathering, weakness

    of biochemical processes, slow leaching of simple salts from the soil, sub–

    dued microbial activity, insignificant accumulation of peat and raw humus,

    development of peculiar tundra gleisoils, (and) absence of morphologically

    developed podzolic soils even on sandy materials. The rigor of winter winds

    is greatly enhanced in Arctic tundra, whereas the thickness of snow decreases.

    Therefore, strong breaking of the surface soil into polygons and formation of

    bare areas between the cracks take place. In this way polygonal or Arctic

    spotty tundras are formed on clayey or peaty-glei substrata.” (Suslov, S. P.,

    Physical Geography of the USSR . 1947. Page 36.)

            The second belt is formed by the tundra proper or “typical” tundra.

    This, probably, is the widest of the three major subdivisions of the Eurasian

    Arctic. East of the Lena River most of this belt is underlain by morainic

    materials, among which gravelly and bouldery clays and clay loams are quite

    prominent. Assorted marine sediments cover a considerable part of the area,

    especially throughout the wise Piasina-Khatanga depression.

            Most of this area is characterized by gently undulating or gently rolling

    relief with scattered low ridges of terminal moraines. Lakes are numerous,

    although, in most places, probably less so than in the belt of littoral

    arctic tundra. Peat bogs are faily common, although layers of peat are

    usually rather thin. Soils are predominantly boggy, unoxidized, and strongly

    affected by solifluction and other similar processes. It has been reported

    that the soils on the better-drained slopes of sandy hills and ridges might

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    EA-PS. Nikiforoff: Soils of the Eurasian Arctic

    be very weakly podsolized, although such development appears to be rather


            Several forms of “typical” tundra, such as mossy, spotted, lichen, grassy,

    and shrubby, are differentiated on the basis of dominant vegetation. Mossy

    tundra develops especially on poorly oxidized clayey soils strongly affected

    by gley formation. Spotty or mound tundras are formed largely on sloping

    land which is occupied predominantly by clayey soils and is subject to strong

    solifluction. Lichen tundra charactizes relatively better drained and more

    sandy soils.

            The wooded tundra, which represents the third belt, is formed by tracts

    of open tundra (especially mossy and shrubby) intermingled with areas occupied

    by thin forest or stunted solitary trees scattered among the tundra shrubs.

    Most of this belt is underlain with morainic materials and characterized by

    gently undulating to rolling topography. Lakes are few in this belt but peat

    bogs are numerous and extensive.

            Bog soils are still the most common throughout this region, although the

    area occupied by weakly podsolized soils and, especially, by poorly drained

    podsolic soils (gley-podsolic and peaty-podsolic soils) are not uncommon and

    become larger and more numerous with transition to the taiga. These soils

    develop in wooded tundra not only on sandy parent materials but also on

    clayey ones, such as morainic boulder clays and clay loams.

            Polygonal tundras do not form in the wooded tundra belt, and spotty and

    mound tundras are less common than in the treeless typical tundras.

            No data as to the pattern of distribution of various soils in different

    parts of the tundra belt of Eurasia are available. Therefore, only a few very

    general statements can be made about some relatively better known regions.

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    EA-PS. Nikiforoff: Soils of the Eurasian Arctic

            Bolshezemelskaia Tundra . The greater part of this region is underlain

    by morainic materials. Here and there are scattered groups and chains of

    low hills representing terminal moraines. Along the coast stretches a

    boggy lowland covered with clayey marine sediments and occupied largely by

    polygonal tundra. Farther inaldd inland , boggy gley soils are most common. Usually

    they are covered with an inch or two or peaty material below which is a typical

    bluish gley. The thickness of peaty cover increases southward.

            The ground thaws during summer to a maximum depth ranging from about a

    foot in peat bogs to about 5 or 6 feet in better drained sandy areas. Clayey

    soils thaw to a depth of about 3 or 4 feet (Liverovskii). The thickness of

    the perennially frozen layer increase from west to east. According to

    Grigoriev, this layer in the region of lower Pechora is about 60 feet thick;

    in the region of Vorkuta it varies from about 250 feet to more than 400 feet,

    and farther to the east, on Vaigach, its thickness is well over 1,000 feet.

            Iamal Peninsula . Iamal Peninsula is more than 600 miles long on its

    meridional axis and about 120 miles wide. It is a low country. Except for

    the southernmost part of the peninsula, the elevation of its inconspicuous

    watershed, which is nearer the eastern coast, probably nowhere exceeds 100

    feet. In the middle of the southernmost part, the elevation of the land

    increases to about 200 or 300 feet. At the northern tip of Iamal lies

    fairly large, equally low and flat Belyi Island which is separated from

    the mainland by narrow Malygin Strait.

            It appears that the greater part of Iamal and the entire Belyi Island

    have emerged from the sea quite recently. All this area is underlain by

    sandy marine sediment.

            The entire peninsula may be divided into three parts: the northernmost

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    EA-PS. Nikiforoff: Soils of the Eurasian Arctic

    part extending from Malygin Strait to the latitude of the Nei-to and

    Jambu-to lakes; a middle part extending farther south to about the latitude

    of the Iarro-to lakes; and the southern part stretching south of Iarro-to

    lakes. The northern part is the lowest and flattest. It slopes very gently

    to the north and northwest and is occupied largely by polygonal and lichen

    tundras. Lakes are less numerous than in other parts of the peninsula.

    Some areas are overgrown with moss but peat bogs are practically absent.

            The middle part is somewhat higher than the northern part. It is

    occupied predominantly by mossy and boggy tundra on sandy materials. In

    contrast to the northern part, a large number of lakes of various sizes are

    scattered throughout this part of Imal. The largest of these are the Nei-to,

    Jambu-to, and Iaaro-to lakes, each of them having an area of some 80 to 100

    square miles. Many lakes are overgrown with moss and sedges. Here and there

    are patches overgrown with arctic shrubs, drawf willow, and birch. Relatively

    elevated and drier areas are occupied by lichens.

            The southernmost part of Iamal is in the belt of wooded tundra. Trees,

    however, are small the thinly scattered. Stunted birch and shrubs of alder

    predominate. In some places some stunted conifers grow. Small lakes and

    peat bogs are numerous. The highest middle portion of this part of Iamal

    probably was not submerged at the time of the marine ingression. It is covered

    by morainic material with boulders. Here and there are scattered low, gently

    sloping hills rising some 50 or 60 feet above the surrounding plain and

    probably representing terminal moraines.

            Gydan Peninsula . Gydan Peninsula is formed by expansive flat lowland

    between the estuaries of the Ob and Yenisei rivers. The southwestern part

    of it, separated from other parts by the Taz River and its estuary, is referred

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    EA-PS. Nikiforoff: Soils of the Eurasian Arctic

    to as the Taz Peninsula. The wide coastal belt and a large northern part

    of Gydan and covered mostly by sandy marine sediments. Considerable areas

    in a relatively higher inner part of the peninsula are underlain by gravelly

    and, in places, bould r er y glacial drifts. Here and there are scattered low,

    presumably morainic hills rising to about 50 feet above the surrounding

    country. Sandy areas throughout this region alternate with areas that are

    covered with somewhat stratified loams, gravelly loams, and heavier materials.

    Lakes are numerous throughout the peninsula.

            Along the coast and throughout the northern part of Gydan, polygonal and

    “spotty” lichen tundras are the dominant characteristic of the landscape.

    The middle part of the peninsula is occupied predominantly by moss tundra

    with considerable areas overgrown with polar birch, willow, and other arctic

    shrubs, whereas the southern part is in the wooded tundra belt. Sparse,

    stunted larch and pine are the most common trees. Most of the area is

    rather boggy.

            The area between the lower Ob River and the Taz River is referred to as

    Bolshaia Nizovaia Tundra. The northern part of this extensive region is an

    open mossy and scrubby tundra, whereas the southern part is occupied by

    wooded tundra.

            Taimyr Peninsula . Taimyr Peninsula consists of two different parts;

    ( 1 ) northern, which is occupied by the Byrranga Plateau (questa); and ( 2 )

    southern, occupied by the Piasina-Khatanga depression. The Byrranga Plateau

    extends from the Piasina River to the east-northeast. The lower Taimyra

    (Nizhniaia Taimyra) River cuts it in two parts — western and eastern.

    The western part is lower and less dissected than the eastern part. It

    slopes very gently northward and it fairly wide coastal part is covered

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    EA-PS. Nikiforoff: Soils of the Eurasian Arctic

    part is covered with marine sediments which extend to about the 300-foot

    contour. The eastern part of Byrranga is dissected into a series of ridges

    which extend to the rocky coast of the Laptev Sea.

            In Pleistocene time the entire plateau was glaciated and marks of

    glaciation are in evidence throughout the region. The Byrranga, however,

    served as a local center of glaciation and little of morainic material

    has been left in the region. The soils in this part of Taimyr are very

    stony and rather shallow with numerous outcrops of bare rocks.

            The Piasina-Khatanga depression has been loaded with glacial drifts

    and inundated during the postglacial marine ingression which left a large

    part of this region covered with marine sediments. The greater part of

    this extensive lowland is occupied by boggy soils of mossy and lichen


    036      |      Vol_VI-0637                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Nikiforoff: Soils of the Eurasian Arctic


    1. Berg, L. S. Priroda (in Russian). English translation: Natural

    Regions of the USSR , 436 pages. The Macmillan Co. New York,


    2. Bunge von,, A. “Naturhistorische Beobachtungen und Fahrten im Lena

    Delta” (in German). Academy of Science Bull ., vol.29, p.422-75.

    3. Gerasimov, I. P., and Markov, K.K. Glacial Period in the territory of

    the USSR (in Russian with English summary), 462 pages.

    Acad. Sci. USSR. Moscow - Leningrad, 1939.

    4. Gorodkov, B. N. “On specific properties of Tundra soils” (in Russian).

    State Geographical Society. Izvestia , vol. 71, no.10, 1939.

    5. Grigoriev, A. A. “Soils of subarctic Tundras and wooded Tundras of

    Eurasia” (in Russian) Pochvovedenie, vol. XX, no.4, Leningrad,


    6. ----. Subarctic (in Russian), 171 pages. Acad. Sci. USSR. Moscow–

    Peningrad, 1946.

    7. Evgenov, N. I. Pilot of Wrangell and Herald Islands (in Russian),

    77 pages. Glavsevmorput. Leningrad, 1937.

    8. Ivanov, I. M. “On soil formation in the Arctic” (in Russian). Bull .

    Institute for survey of the North. No.49, Gostekhizdat.

    Moscow - Leningrad, 1931.

    9. Leffingwell, E. deK. “The Canning River Region Northern Alaska.”

    251 pages. ill. U.S. Geological Survey Prof.Paper 109.

    Gov. Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 1919.

    10. Livorovski, Yu. A. “Soils of the Tundras of Northern Regions”

    (in Russian). Reports of Polar Expedition of the Acad. Sci. USSR.

    vol. 19. Leningrad, 1934.

    11. ----. “Soils of the Far North and some aspects of their chemistry”

    (in Russian). Chemization of Socialist Agriculture , No.3, 1937.

    12. ----. Soils of the Boggy Tundra Belt (in Russian), 54 pages. Acad.

    Sci. USSR. Moscow - Leningrad, 1937.

    13. Lukashev, K. I. “Mound formation as a manifestation of the tension

    in the perennially frozen soils” (in Russian). Annals .

    University of Leningrad, vol. 3, pp. 147-58. Leningrad, 1936.

    037      |      Vol_VI-0638                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Nikiforoff: Soils of the Eurasian Arctic

    14. Nikiforoff, K. K. (C.C.) “On certain dynamic processes in the soils

    of perennially frozen regions” (in Russian and French).

    Pochvovedenie , no. 2, pp.50-74. St. Petersburg, 1912.

    15. Obruchev, S. V. “Solifluction terraces and their origin based on

    survey in the Chukotsk region” (in Russian O ) Problemy

    Arktiki , no. 3, pp.27-48, no.4, pp.57-83. Leningrad, 1937.

    16. Panov, D. G. “Polygonal formations in Kanin Tundra” (in Russian).

    State Geographical Society. Trudy , vol.65, no.4, 1933.

    17. Ratmanov, G. E. “Soils of Novaya Zemlia” (in Russian). Trudy

    of Soil Institute of the Acad. of Sci. USSR. Moscow -

    Leningrad, 1930.

    18. Rosov, N. “Soils of the USSR.” Large Soviet Encyclopedia . Special

    volume “USSR,” pp.168-81. 1947.

    19. Sergeievskiy, B. A. Hydrogeographical survey of the southern part

    of Kara Sea: Ob-Yenisei region . (in Russian), 416 pages.

    Glavsevmorput. Leningrad, 1936.

    20. Sumgin, M. I. “Ever-frozen soils in the USSR” (in Russian), 379 pages.

    Acad. Sci. USSR. Moscow, 1937.

    21. ----., et al. General Cryopedology (in Russian), 340 pages. Acad.

    Sci. USSR. Moscow - Leningrad, 1940.

    22. Suslov, S. P. Physical Geography of the USSR (in Russian), 544 pages.

    State Pedagologic Publication. Moscow - Leningrad, 1947.

    23. ----. Olenek River (in Russian, 165 pages. Glavsevmorput. Leningrad,


            Encyclopedias and periodicals:

    24. Bol’shaya Sovetskaya Enciclopedia (Large Soviet Encyclopedia) (in Russian),

    1927-1947. Ogiz. Moscow. 25. Sibirskaya Sovetskaya Enciclopedia (Siberian Soviet Encyclopedia).

    4 volumes of which only 3 were available. Siberian Regional

    Publication. Novosibirsk. 26. Problemy Arktiki (Problems of the Arctic). Monthly. (in Russian)

    1937-1940. Glavsevmorput. Leningrad. 27. Sovetskaya Arktika (Soviet Arctic). Monthly. (in Russian). 1935-1940.


    C. C Nikiforoff

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