Paleopedology—Origin, nature, and dating of paleosols

Paleopedology—Origin, nature, and dating of paleosols

BOOK REVIEWS Paleopedology-Origin, Nature, and Dating of Paleosols, edited by D. H. Yaalon, International Society of Soil Science and Israel Universit...

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BOOK REVIEWS Paleopedology-Origin, Nature, and Dating of Paleosols, edited by D. H. Yaalon, International Society of Soil Science and Israel Universities Press, Jerusalem, 1971, 350 pp., $10.50. This book consists of 29 papers selected from those that were presented at a symposium in Amsterdam in August 1970. Scientists from many countries contributed to the volume and most papers are in English. Discussions that took place between participants are included after each paper. A wide variety of topics is presented and these should be of interest to Quaternary stratigraphers, sedimentary petrologists, pedologists, and archeologists. The papers are grouped into four sections, and only a few are mentioned here. Section 1 deals with overall concepts and definitions in the field of paleopedology. I found the paper by Yaalon especially interesting because he attempted to show how rapidly certain soil features are produced and how rapidly the features subsequently might change if environmental conditions change. Only those features that adjust slowly or not at all to environmental change are judged best for interpretations of paleopedogenesis. Section 2 contains a group of papers discussing the problems of radiocarbon dating of soil features. In my opinion, this is the strongest section of the book. Dating of A-horizon organic matter of a surface soil provides only a minimum age for the soil and the date obtained depends on the kind of soil and on the depth of the dated sample. Knowledge of these variations is essential in interpreting the true age of buried soils if radiocarbon dates come from soil organic matter. One paper covers problems in interpreting radiocarbon dates on carbonate horizons; these dates are a minimum for the sediment parent material, and the difference between the sediment age and the carbonate radiocarbon age appears to increase in going from arid to humid climates. Section 3 contains a variety of papers. Among them are a summary by an international working group on the criteria for recognizing and classifying paleosols, one on the inception of soil salinity in the Mesopotamian Plain by study of mud bricks used in constructioa of ancient structures, and two on soil development sequences. One development sequence is on Costa Rica podzol-like soils, and the other deals with clay-mineral and great-soil-group variation with age in the northeastern U.S.A. In this latter paper the soils are shown to vary from sol-brun acide -+ gray-brown podzolic + redyellow podzolic with increasing age of parent mate117

rial, and the suggestion is that this variation might be due more to the effect of time than to paleoclimate. This example points out the difficulty of separating the time factor from the climatic factor in explaining features of old soils, and these problems are discussed in several papers throughout the book. Section 4 is separated into two parts. One part includes papers on the uses of soils in Quaternary research with examples from Europe, Israel, and New Zealand. Most stress is on the problems of environmental reconstruction for the time of pedogenesis, and the dating and stratigraphic position of various soils. The second part of this section, along with the paper by Teruggi and Andreis in section 3, give examples of recognizing and correlating buried soils in sedimentary rock sections of pre-Quaternary age. I see the main value of this book as reference material for Quaternary researchers and as supplemental reading in some upper division and graduate pedology courses, especially those with a strong geologic and field approach. In this day of highpriced books, the price is quite reasonable. W. BIRKELAND Geological Sciences Ulziversity of Colorado Boulder, Colorado 80302 PETER

Department

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Dating

Techtiques for the Archeologist, H. N. AND E. K. RALPH, Eds. The M.I.T. Press, 1971. Price $12.50. MICHAEL

During the past two decades, dating techniques have added much information to archeological investigations. The development of these techniques has been rapid, and it has been a frustrating task for the archeologist to obtain up-to-date information on the various methods. The pitfalls of the “magic box” approach, with its ideal numbers that could be used everywhere, were smn evident to the professional archeologist. Only a better understanding of the methods involved could result in a proper assessment of the limitations and inaccuracies. “Dating Techniques for the Archeologist” should be of tremendous help for such an assessment as it treats most basic and practical aspects of the relevant dating methods in detail. The book contains seven chapters, each of which is written by an author who has been extensively involved in the field discussed. This assures professional expertise for all chapters, and