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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Using Agricultural and Industrial Byproducts to Improve Crop Production Systems and Environment Quality

Location: National Soil Dynamics Laboratory

Title: Identifying military impacts on archaeology deposits based on differences in soil organic carbon and chemical elements at soil horizon interfaces

Authors
item Hargrave, M -
item Gebhart, D -
item Torbert, Henry
item Palazzo, A -

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: November 12, 2010
Publication Date: November 12, 2010
Citation: Hargrave, M.L., Gebhart, D.L., Torbert III, H.A., Palazzo, A.J. 2010. Identifying military impacts on archaeology deposits based on differences in soil organic carbon and chemical elements at soil horizon interfaces [Abstract]. Second Science and Archaeology Symposium, November 12, 2010, University of Illinois, Campaign-Urbana, Illinois. CDROM.

Technical Abstract: The National Historic Preservation Act requires land-managing agencies to identify and account for their impacts on archaeological resources. Regulatory agencies that oversee compliance with historic preservation legislation frequently assume military training adversely affects archaeological resources. However, little research has been done to refute or support such assumptions. Consequently, the DoD must continue to avoid sites that may not be adversely impacted by military training. Research was initiated on military training lands to quantify vertical stratification of 19 individual soil compositional variables occurring at near-surface soil horizon interfaces. Five archaeological habitation areas at Fort Benning, GA, and Fort Riley, KS, were selected and each subsequently sub-divided into four treatment groups (archaeological and non-archaeological sites with and without disturbance) based on level of training disturbance and proximity to archaeological site boundaries. Several soil variables exhibited excessive variation in vertical stratification and deemed unreliable. These included (1) C due to low levels of organic matter and past land use (timber harvesting, prescribed burning) and (2) pH, P, K, and N, due to random, undocumented lime and fertilizer applications associated with agriculture. Several other variables, notably the extractable, low concentration elements such as Cu, Cr, Zn, and Ni, are bound tightly by organic matter and largely restricted to surface soils, but can be readily released and transported in acidic soil solution when physical disturbance to the surface soil exposes organic matter to increased mineralization rates. At several archaeological habitation areas, disturbed treatment groups had Cu and Cr concentrations 50-100% greater than those of undisturbed treatment groups for the 0-10 cm and 10-20 cm soil depth increments. Frequently, Zn, Cu, and Cr concentrations were greater in the 10-20 cm and 20-30 cm depth increments for disturbed treatment groups indicating that military training disturbance had inverted or buried the upper soil profile when compared to undisturbed treatment groups. Since the solubility and transport of these elements can be related to soil pH and disturbance, they may be particularly useful, broadly applicable variables for estimating the potential for damage to archaeological resources resulting from military training.

Last Modified: 7/25/2014
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