Lithologic Controls on Soil Bulk Density in the Reynolds Creek Experimental Watershed

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Student Presentation

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Kerrie Weppner and Erin Stutzman


Soil bulk density, which is defined as the weight of dry soils divided by total soil volume, can vary with soil texture, precipitation gradients, aspect, organic content and soil parent material. Bulk density is indicative of the soil’s structural support, aeration, and ability to move water and dissolved material. Quantifying bulk density is critical to understanding soil-plant-atmosphere interactions. Here, we measure bulk density for ~10 soil pits excavated in the Reynolds Creek Experimental Watershed (RCW), near Nampa, Idaho to identify how bulk density changes with parent material (granitic soils vs. basaltic soils). This valuable data set will be used to inform the larger, multi-institutional Reynolds Creek Critical Zone Observatory study with a primary focus on quantifying soil storage of inorganic and organic carbon in RCW, and potential soil carbon storage fluxes under changing climate.

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