Late Quaternary paleosols and their paleoenvironmental significance along the Andean piedmont, Eastern Bolivia

May, Jan-Hendrik; Veit, Heinz (2009). Late Quaternary paleosols and their paleoenvironmental significance along the Andean piedmont, Eastern Bolivia. Catena, 78(2), pp. 100-116. Amsterdam: Elsevier 10.1016/j.catena.2009.03.003

[img] Text
May Veit Catena.pdf - Published Version
Restricted to registered users only
Available under License Publisher holds Copyright.

Download (6MB) | Request a copy

The Andean piedmont of eastern Bolivia is situated at the southern margin of Amazonia characterized by an overall humid climate regime with a marked contrast between the rainy and dry seasons. The nearby Subandean foothills deliver abundant sandy sediments to the piedmont, leading to a complex array of sediments and paleosol horizons. Within this setting, the presented study analyzes four profiles of paleosol-sediment-sequences along incised ephemeral streams near Santa Cruz de la Sierra with a focus on past pedogenic variability in the context of the regional late Quaternary geomorphic and environmental evolution.

Based on field observations, micromorphological analysis, geochemical and clay mineralogical data five classes of paleosol horizons could be distinguished. The individual paleosol horizons as well as the sediments, in which they developed, were interpreted regarding their paleoenvironmental significance, taking into consideration the various controls on soil formation with particular focus on changes of local environmental conditions through time. Thus, three different pathways of soil formation were established. On the late Quaternary timescale, the results suggest a strong relation between paleoenvironmental conditions (climate, vegetation etc.), soil environment (soil water flow, micro-environment) and the type of paleosol horizons developed in the study area.

The formation of “red beds” (Bw horizons) implies very dry soil environments under dominantly dry conditions, which seem to have prevailed in the study area some time before ∼ 18 cal ka BP. Moderately dry but markedly seasonal environmental conditions with a long dry season and strong seasonal contrasts in soil water flow could explain the formation of moderately developed Bwt horizons around ∼ 18 cal ka BP and much of the mid-Holocene. The formation of Bt horizons and/or clay lamellae in relation to intense neoformation of clay and dominant clay illuviation by soil water points to wet conditions similar to today, which have probably prevailed in the study area before ∼ 8 cal ka BP and since ∼ 5 cal ka BP.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography > Physical Geography > Unit Paleo-Geoecology
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography

UniBE Contributor:

May, Jan-Hendrik, Veit, Heinz


900 History > 910 Geography & travel








Factscience Import

Date Deposited:

04 Oct 2013 15:21

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 14:25

Publisher DOI:


Web of Science ID:




URI: (FactScience: 205211)

Actions (login required)

Edit item Edit item
Provide Feedback