Fenton, T. E. 2012. The impact of erosion on the classification of Mollisols in Iowa. Can. J. Soil Sci. 92: 413-418. The fertile black soils in the Great Plains and Western States of the United States are dark brown Chernozems in the Canadian system of soil taxonomy and Mollisols, when a mollic epipedon is present, according to the United States soil taxonomy. Other primary criteria are organic carbon content, color, structure, and thickness of the mollic epipedon. Accelerated erosion can affect all of these properties and is especially critical for soils that have slope gradients of more than 2%. Accelerated erosion and erosion phases are recognized in field mapping based on the amount of A horizon remaining but criteria provided in the Soil Taxonomy guidelines conflict with procedures outlined in the Soil Survey Field Manual and result in a dichotomy between the classification system and field mapping practices. Soil map unit data for the five most extensive Mollisol soil series in Iowa that have multiple phases of slope and erosion were summarized and variations between the taxonomic and survey principles were identified. Eroded units comprise 26 to 77% of the total mapped area of the series studied and do not qualify as Mollisols under the taxonomic system. However, under the principle of following the genetic thread to classify soils, the taxonomic system should be modified to accommodate the eroded units that have the same genetic pathway as their uneroded counterparts. This could be accomplished by placing primary emphasis on the organic carbon content and waiving the color requirement for eroded soil map units.
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Vol. 92 • No. 3