Re: Coal - Gastaldo III

Bill Payne (
Wed, 27 May 1998 23:09:32 -0600

Keith B Miller wrote:

> You seem to be willing to identify a paleosol based on only one single
> criteria - that of intact root systems.

No. I know I haven't properly presented all of my observations yet, but
even with what I have presented, you are oversimplifying the argument.

> Interestingly, this is not even a
> critieria used by soil science in recognizing or defining modern soils.
> Rooting alone is not considered an adequate critieria to recognize soil
> profiles.

It was for Bob Gastaldo, and it is his paper I was critiquing - not your
list of papers. I refuted Gastaldo's paper point-by-point, and you have
said nothing to defend Gastaldo on the merits of his paper; instead, you
rely on what I believe is an unrelated analog.

> In the buried Holocene and Pleistocene soils that I have briefly
> examined, I have yet to see any intact root systems. Intact root systems
> have very poor preservation potential in soils (although they are sometimes
> preserved), the microstructure and chemical/mineralogical zonation is what
> is commonly preserved. Soils are fundamentally zones of chemical and
> physical alteration resulting from surface weathering processes subject to
> vegetation type, topography (ground water levels), climate, nature of
> parent material, and length of subaerial exposure. The chemical and
> physical alterations and their characteristic vertical and spatial
> variation can be recognized in ancient paleosols. The macroscopic and
> microscopic features of these paleosols are virtually identical to those
> observed in modern soils - even sometimes including the associated soil
> biota. I have previously sent a list of basic references on soil
> description and identification which you seem to consider irrelevant. As
> long as you will not consider the criteria used by soil science as relevant
> evidence I don't see how any productive dialog on this question is
> possible.

Soil science criteria are only relevant for recognizing soils. Holocene
and Pleistocene soils are rather remote from Carboniferous underclays,
and since Carboniferous underclays were never soils, the soil criteria
are truly irrelevant. As long as you continue to ignore site-specific
data relative to coal, "I don't see how any productive dialog on this
question is possible."

> Interestingly, in the comment above, you will not accept axial root systems
> as evidence of soil formation, yet you disregard the evidence that does
> confirm soil processes (ie. chemical and structural alteration).

You and Russ have both mentioned chemical alteration (as well as
structural). Would the two of you please help me by reconciling what
you are saying with the study of Schultz, L. G., 1958, Petrology of
underclays: Geological Society of America Bulletin, vol. 69, pp.
363-402: Schultz studied underclays in the northeast (from Penn. down
through Tenn and up into the Illinois Basin) and concluded from x-ray
analysis that the underclay mineralogy *does not* show a weathering
pattern from the top contact of the underclay down, as would be expected
in a topsoil. His macroscopic field observations confirmed his
hypothesis that the underclay was a flocculant from water, not an
ancient topsoil.
I don't have the article handy now, but I think he analyzed over 400
sites in maybe 12 or 15 states - this was no small study. What you and
Russ seem to be saying is in direct conflict with Schultz. How do you

Bill Payne