Science in China Series D: Earth Sciences

, Volume 46, Issue 7, pp 683–693 | Cite as

Properties of soils in Grove Mountains, East Antarctica



Three cold desert soil sites were first found in the southern Mount Harding, Grove Mountains, East Antarctica. The soils are characteristics of the widespread occurrence of surface desert pavement, abundant water-soluble salts, strongly stained upper portion of soil profile, slightly acid and negligible organic matter content. A 1:5 soil-water extracts analysis indicates that the dominant cations are Mg2+ and Na+, followed by Ca2+ and K+, and the main anion is SO 4 2− , then Cl and NO 3 2− . The accumulation of water-soluble salts indicates ion transportation in the frigid and arid Antarctica environment. The distribution of the salts is related to the maximum content of moisture and clay mineral. Clay fraction migration occurs in the soils, which is different from that of other cold desert soils. The upper horizons of some profiles are generally stained, namely rubification, primarily because of the weathering of iron-bearing minerals. The reddish hues of cold desert soils have been attributed to relatively high concentrations of dithionite-extractable Fe (Fed). The weathering features of soils suggest that the soil age of this area is 0.5–3.5 Ma. No remnants of glaciations were found on the soil sites of Mount Harding, which suggests that the Antarctic glaciations have not reached the soil sites since at least 0.5 Ma, even during the Last Glacial Maximum.


the Grove Mountains cold desert soil desert pavement soluble salt Fed 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Campbell, I. B., Claridge, G. G. C., Antarctica: Soils, Weathering Processes and Environment, Amsterdam: Elsevier Science Publishers, 1987, 1–368.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Tedrow, J. C. F., Ugolini, F. C., Antarctic soils, in Antarctic Soil and Soil-forming Processes, Antarctic Research Series (ed. Tedrow, J. C. F.), American Geophysical Union, 1966, 8: 161–177.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Bockheim, J. G., Ugolini, F. C., A review of pedogenic zonation in well-drained soils of the southern circumpolar region, Quaternary Research, 1990, 34:47–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Beyer, L., Bolter, M., Formation, ecology, and geography of Cryosols of an ice-free oasis in Coastal East Antarctica near Casey Station (Wilkes Land), Australian Journal of Soil Research, 1998, 37:209–244.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Bockheim, J. G., Properties and classification of cold desert soil from Antarctica, Soil Science Society of America Journal, 1997, 61:224–231.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Bulme, H. -P., Beyer, L., Schneider, D., Soil of southern circumpolar region and their classification, Eurasian Soil Science, 1998, 31:477–485.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Jensen, J. T., Report on Antarctic Soils, British Antarctica Expedition 1907–1909, 1916, Part VI, 6: 89–92.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Campbell, I. B., ba]Claridge, G. G. C., A classification of frigic soils—The zonal soils of the Antarctic continent, Soil Science, 1969,107: 75–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    McCraw, J. D., Some surface features of McMurdo Sound region, Victoria Land, Antarctica, New Zealand Journal of Geology and Geophysics, 1967, 10: 394–417.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Liu, X. H., Zhao, Y., Liu, X. C. et al., Geology of the Grove Mountains in East Antarctica—New evidence for the final suture of Gondwana Land, Science in China, Ser. D, 2003, 46(4): 305–319.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Cheng, Y. J., Lu, L. H., Bian, L. E., Summer weathering characteristics of Grove Mountains area in East Antarctica, Chinese Journal of Polar Research (in Chinese with English abstract), 1999, 11(4): 291–300.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Bockheim, J. G., Properties of a chronosequence of ultraxerous soils in the Trans-Antarctic Mountains, Geoderma, 1982, 28: 239–225.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Claridge, G. G. C., Campbell, I. B., The salts in Antarctic soils, their distribution and relationship to soil processes, Soil Science, 1977, 123: 377–384.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Chuvilin, E. M., Migration of ions of chemical elements in freezing and frozen soils, Polar Record, 1999, 35(192): 59–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Campbell, I. B., Balks, M. R., Claridge, G. G. C., Moisture contents in soils of the McMurdo Sound and Dry Valley region of Antarctic, in Ecosystem Processes in Antarctic Ice-free Landscapes (eds. Lyons, W. B., Howard-Williams, C., Hawes, I. et al.), Rotterdam: Balkema, 1997, 61–76.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Campbell, I. B., Claridge, G. G. C., Morphology and age relationship of Antarctic soils, in Quaternary Studies (eds. Suggate, R. P., Cresswell, M. M.), Royal Society of New Zealand Bulletin, 1975, 13: 83–88.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Xie, Y. Y., Changes of sedimentary environment since the late Pleistocene in Vestfold Hills area, Antarctica, Science in China, Ser. B, 1985, 28(9): 988–998.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Xie, Y. Y., Xie, Z. C., Qian, Q. F. et al., A preliminary research on weathering process in Casey Station, East Antarctica, Science in China, Ser. B, 1988, 31(7): 873–884.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Xie, Y. Y., Chemical weathering in permafrost regions of Antarctica—Great Wall Station, Casey Station and Davis Station areas, Antarctic Research (in Chinese with English abstract), 1988, 1(2): 8–14.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Keys, J. R., Williams, K., Origin of crystalline, cold desert salts in the McMurdo region, Antarctica, Geochimaca et Cosmochimica Acta, 1981, 45: 2299–2309.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Frech, H. M., Guglielmin, M., Observations on the ice-marginal, periglacial geomorphology of Terra Nova Bay, northern Victoria Land, Antarctica, Permafrost and Periglacial Processes, 1999, 10: 331–347.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Ugolini, F. C., Bull, C., Soil development and glacial events in Antarctica, Quaternaria, 1965, 7: 251–269.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Bockheim, J. G., Relative age and origin of soils in eastern Wright Valley, Antarctica, Soil Science, 1979, 128: 142–152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Science in China Press 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xiaoli Li
    • 1
  • Xiaohan Liu
    • 1
  • Yitai Ju
    • 1
  • Feixin Huang
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Geology and GeophysicsChinese Academy of SciencesChina

Personalised recommendations