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Variation of soil magnetism across the Russian steppe: its significance for use of soil magnetism as a palaeorainfall proxy.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


<mark>Journal publication date</mark>08/2002
<mark>Journal</mark>Quaternary Science Reviews
Issue number14-15
Number of pages6
Pages (from-to)1571-1576
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Modern soils across the Chinese Loess Plateau exhibit strong but disputed correlation between their pedogenic magnetic content and annual rainfall. A soil magnetism/rainfall transfer function could provide a quantitative proxy of Quaternary rainfall for this region. However, some argue that �magnetic dilution�, through spatially varying fluxes of weakly magnetic dust, controls the soil magnetic properties. Here, we test the soil magnetism/rainfall couple by examining 22 Russian steppe soils (free of present dust accumulation) across a climatic transect. From the semi-arid Caspian region to the more humid Caucasus, the soils display systematic increases in topsoil ferrimagnetic concentrations. With the exception of climate (and its co-variant, vegetation), soil-forming factors are essentially constant across this stable area. Hence, the soil magnetic variations dominantly reflect climate and from statistical analysis, principally rainfall. Further, the Russian steppe magnetic/rainfall relationship matches that observed for the Chinese Loess Plateau. These independent data thus substantiate the soil magnetism/rainfall climofunction and, by inference, eliminate �dust dilution� as a significant magnetic factor.