Palaeosols and their cover sediments of a glacial landscape in northern central Europe : Spatial distribution, pedostratigraphy and evidence on landscape evolution

Kaiser, Knut; Schneider, Thomas; Küster, Mathias; Dietze, Elisabeth; Fülling, Alexander; Heinrich, Susann; Kappler, Christoph; Nelle, Oliver; Schult, Manuela; Theuerkauf, Martin; Vogel, Sebastian; Boer, Anna Maartje de; Börner, Andreas; Preusser, Frank; Schwabe, Matthias; Ulrich, Jens; Wirner, Michael; Bens, Oliver


Knowledge of the distribution, types and properties of buried soils, i.e. palaeosols, is essential in understanding how lowlands in northern central Europe have changed over past millennia. This is an indispensable requirement for evaluating long-term human impact including soil erosion and land-cover dynamics. In the Serrahn area (62 km2), a young glacial landscape representative for northeastern Germany and part of the M├╝ritz National Park, 26 pedosedimentary sections were documented and analysed. To this end, a multiproxy-approach was applied using pedology, micromorphology, geochronology, and palaeoecology. Statistical and spatial analyses of c. 5200 soil profiles, of which 10% contain palaeosols, show that buried soils cover an area of 5.7 km2, i.e. 9% of the area studied. Most palaeosols are Cambisols, Arenosols and Gleysols. Palaeosols are mainly covered by aeolian and colluvial sands, as well as by lacustrine sands and peat. Radiocarbon and luminescence dating together with palynological and anthracological data reveal that former land surfaces were dominantly buried through erosion triggered by human activity in the late Holocene. In addition, but to a clearly smaller extent, Lateglacial/early Holocene palaeosols and cover sediments occur. Following Medieval clear-cutting and intensive land use, the study area is today again widely forested. The high share of buried land surfaces detected here is expected to be representative for the hilly glacial landscapes even in the wider region, i.e. in northern central Europe, and should be considered in soil mapping, soil carbon budgeting and assessments of past human impact.