Subaqueous soils: Their genesis and importance in ecosystem management

E. Erich, P. J. Drohan, L. R. Ellis, M. E. Collins, M. Payne, D. Surabian

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Research by soil scientists examining estuarine aquatic substrates has identified pedogenic processes, resulting in the reclassification of these aquatic substrates (sediments) as subaqueous soils (SASs). Pedogenic processes in SASs are similar in concept to those occurring in subaerial soils, and thus SASs can be described and mapped based on pedogenic similarities using Jenny's soil forming factors for interpreting soil genesis. The occurrence of SASs in estuarine and freshwater ecosystems places them at the centre of many ecosystem-dependent processes supporting food webs linked directly to the human population and its economy. Early research on SASs has been driven by addressing fishery habitat support questions for US subaquatic vegetation populations (SAV), and for estimating the carbon sequestration potential of soils with SAV. New land use interpretations for SASs include bottom type, presence of sulphidic materials, potential for submerged aquatic vegetation restoration, limitations for moorings and species lists for plants and algae common to tidal areas. Subaquatic soils are a viable, exciting frontier of soil science research that will surely foster multi-disciplinary collaborations. While their genesis is only beginning to be understood, it is clear that their importance in human-dependent land management issues such as soil and water quality, food supply and human survival is great. However, the fragility of such soils for providing vital functions to support life on Earth suggests that they need to be investigated and monitored.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)245-252
Number of pages8
JournalSoil Use and Management
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pollution
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Soil Science


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