Morphological and physical properties in diagnostics of urban soils: case study from Moscow, Russia
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Faculty of Soil Science, chair of Soil Geography, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Russia
Faculty of Soil Science, chair of Soil Physics, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Russia
Submission date: 2020-06-25
Final revision date: 2020-10-04
Acceptance date: 2020-12-11
Online publication date: 2021-01-14
Publication date: 2021-01-14
Corresponding author
Tatiana Vadimovna Prokof'eva   

Faculty of Soil Science, chair of Soil Geography, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Leninskie gory, 1-12, 119991, Moscow, Russia
Soil Sci. Ann., 2020, 71(4), 309-320
The whole complex of soil properties formed during a long process of evolution is used in soil diagnostics. Following the genetic approach, which proposes the designation of a specific diagnostic horizon that represents stages of specific urban synlitogenic soil formation on thick human-made deposits, we face the problem of separating truly soil horizons from layers of man-made deposits, as both contain significant amounts of artefacts. In addition, they have similar chemical and physical-chemical properties corresponding to general geochemical characteristics of the urban environment. A comparative analysis of morphological and physical characteristics was conducted for several soils of loamy texture within the city of Moscow, Russia. Their morphological descriptions were accompanied by determinations of bulk density, saturated hydraulic conductivity and penetration resistance. For the analysis of morphological and physical properties, soil diagnostic horizons were arranged in four groups (synlithogenic urbic humus horizons, postlithogenic humus horizons, technogenic layers and horizons inherited from natural texturally-differentiated soils). Most of the studied soil profiles had significant contents of solid inclusions (domestic waste and building rubble) that allowed us to define them as Urbic Technosols, according to the WRB soil classification system. It was confirmed that, in addition to specific chemical and morphological properties, man-made urban soils had specific physical characteristics. The abundance of inclusions of building rubble and domestic waste had a strong influence on physical properties such as bulk density and saturated hydraulic conductivity. Heterogeneous distribution of such properties within urban soil profiles could be considered as their characteristic feature. As a result, this study confirmed the identification of certain diagnostic horizons by establishing statistically significant differences in their bulk densities and saturated hydraulic conductivity. Penetration resistance was shown to be a less informative parameter in this study. We believe that more data on physical properties of different types of horizons should be accumulated for making it possible to establish typical values of physical characteristics of such horizons.
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