Articles | Volume 8, issue 6
Biogeosciences, 8, 1415–1440, 2011

Special issue: Biogeochemistry and function of Amazon Forest

Biogeosciences, 8, 1415–1440, 2011

  01 Jun 2011

01 Jun 2011

Soils of Amazonia with particular reference to the RAINFOR sites

C. A. Quesada1,2, J. Lloyd1,3, L. O. Anderson4, N. M. Fyllas1, M. Schwarz5,*, and C. I. Czimczik5,** C. A. Quesada et al.
  • 1School of Geography, University of Leeds, LS2 9JT, UK
  • 2Institito Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia, Avenida André Araújo, 2936, Aleixo, CEP 69060-001, Manaus-AM, Brazil
  • 3School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, James Cook University, Cairns, Qld 4878, Australia
  • 4School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3QY, UK
  • 5Max-Planck-Institut fuer Biogeochemie, Postfach 100164, 07701, Jena, Germany
  • *now at: Fieldwork Assistance, Postfach 101022, 07710 Jena, Germany
  • **now at: Department of Earth System Science, University of California, 2103 Croul Hall, Irvine, CA, 92697-3100, USA

Abstract. The tropical forests of the Amazon Basin occur on a wide variety of different soil types reflecting a rich diversity of geologic origins and geomorphic processes. We here review the existing literature about the main soil groups of Amazonia, describing their genesis, geographical patterns and principal chemical, physical and morphologic characteristics. Original data is also presented, with profiles of exchangeable cations, carbon and particle size fraction illustrated for the principal soil types; also emphasizing the high diversity existing within the main soil groups when possible. Maps of geographic distribution of soils occurring under forest vegetation are also introduced, and to contextualize soils into an evolutionary framework, a scheme of soil development is presented having as its basis a chemical weathering index. We identify a continuum of soil evolution in Amazonia with soil properties varying predictably along this pedogenetic gradient.

Final-revised paper