• Geosciences, Vol. 7, Pages 72: Historical Monitoring of Shoreline Changes in the Cua Dai Estuary, Central Vietnam Using Multi-Temporal Remote Sensing Data

      Cua Dai is one of the major estuarine areas in Central Vietnam that plays a significant role in local maritime transport, fisheries, and tourism activities. This paper presents a study that monitored the shoreline dynamics of the Cua Dai estuary over a period of 50 years (1964–2014) by using field survey data, geographic information systems techniques, and multi-temporal satellite remote sensing images (ALOS-AVNIR2 and Landsat imageries). The assessment of shoreline changes was divided into three phases: 1964–1980, 1981–2000, and 2001–2014. The results revealed that over the last 50 years, shoreline changes dramatically occurred between 1964 and 1980. The general trends of erosion and accretion at the Cua Dai estuary show that the river mouth moved towards the south due to the erosion of shorelines in the north and the river bank in the south of the Cua Dai estuary. The study outcomes can provide essential information for planning, zoning, and sustainable development activities of the coastal zones in the context of climate change.

    • Geosciences, Vol. 7, Pages 71: Thick-Skinned and Thin-Skinned Tectonics: A Global Perspective

      This paper gives an overview of the large-scale tectonic styles encountered in orogens worldwide. Thin-skinned and thick-skinned tectonics represent two end member styles recognized in mountain ranges. Both styles are encountered in former passive margins of continental plates. Thick-skinned style including the entire crust and possibly the lithospheric mantle are associated with intracontinental contraction. Delamination of subducting continental crust and horizontal protrusion of upper plate crust into the opening gap occurs in the terminal stage of continent-continent collision. Continental crust thinned prior to contraction is likely to develop relatively thin thrust sheets of crystalline basement. A true thin-skinned type requires a detachment layer of sufficient thickness. Thickness of the décollement layer as well as the mechanical contrast between décollement layer and detached cover control the style of folding and thrusting within the detached cover units. In subduction-related orogens, thin- and thick-skinned deformation may occur several hundreds of kilometers from the plate contact zone. Basin inversion resulting from horizontal contraction may lead to the formation of basement uplifts by the combined reactivation of pre-existing normal faults and initiation of new reverse faults. In most orogens thick-skinned and thin-skinned structures both occur and evolve with a pattern where nappe stacking propagates outward and downward.

    • Geosciences, Vol. 7, Pages 73: Glaciers, Permafrost and Lake Levels at the Tsengel Khairkhan Massif, Mongolian Altai, During the Late Pleistocene and Holocene

      Understanding paleo—and recent environmental changes and the dynamics of individual drivers of water availability is essential for water resources management in the Mongolian Altai. Here, we follow a holistic approach to uncover changes in glaciers, permafrost, lake levels and climate at the Tsengel Khairkhan massif. Our general approach to describe glacier and lake level changes is to combine traditional geomorphological field mapping with bathymetric measurements, satellite imagery interpretation, and GIS analyses. We also analysed climate data from two nearby stations, and measured permafrost temperature conditions at five boreholes located at different elevations. We identified four glacial moraine systems (M4-M1) and attribute them to the period from the penultimate glaciation (MIS 4/5) until the Little Ice Age (MIS 1). During the Local Last Glacial Maximum (LLGM; MIS 2), a glacier reached down into the western Kharganat Valley and blocked it, resulting in the formation of the endorheic Khar Lake basin. Subsequently, the lake was fed mainly by precipitation and permafrost meltwater. In recent years, glaciers have been in strong recession, yet Khar Lake levels have remained relatively stable, which is in contrast to mainly decreasing lake levels in other regions throughout Mongolia. While temperatures in the Altai are increasing (leading to increasing evaporation), precipitation in higher elevations has increased, which—in addition to increased glacier and permafrost melting—would counteract the increasing aridity effects. A systematic and holistic monitoring of glaciers, permafrost, lake levels and climate in the Mongolian Altai is necessary, and results from (sub-)disciplines need to be correlated.

    • Geosciences, Vol. 7, Pages 69: Physicochemical and Geotechnical Alterations to MX-80 Bentonite at the Waste Canister Interface in an Engineered Barrier System

      The study investigated the basic geomechanical and mineralogical evolution of the bentonite barrier under various experimental boundary conditions which replicated the near-field Thermo-Hydro-Chemico (THC) conditions in a repository. The relationships between the physicochemical alterations and changes in the geotechnical properties have seldom been studied, especially on a consistent dataset. This paper attempts to link the physicochemical properties of Na-bentonite (MX-80) to the macro-scale engineering functionality of the bentonite post THC exposure. Experiments investigated the impact of THC variables on the engineering and physicochemical functionality of the bentonite with respect to its application within a High-Level Waste (HLW) engineered barrier system. Intrinsic alterations to the MX-80 bentonite under relatively short-term exposure to hydrothermal and chemical conditions were measured. Additionally, two long-term tests were conducted under ambient conditions to consider the impact of exposure duration. The intrinsic measurements were then related to the overall performance of the bentonite as a candidate barrier material for application in a UK geological disposal facility. Findings indicate that exposure to thermo-saline-corrosion conditions (i.e., corrosion products derived from structural grade 275 carbon steel) inhibits the free swell capacity and plasticity of the bentonite. However, the measured values remained above the design limits set out for the Swedish multi-barrier concept, from which the UK concept may take a lead. Corrosion alone does not appear to significantly affect the geotechnical measurements compared with the influence of thermal loading and high saline pore water after relatively short-term exposure. Thermal and corrosion exposure displayed no impact on the intrinsic swelling of the smectite component, indicating that no significant structural alteration had occurred. However, when exploring more complex saline solutions i.e., mixed Na, K and Ca, rather than the reference NaCl, divalent cation replacement was observed within the interlayer exchange site. This was accelerated in higher thermal loading conditions.

    • Geosciences, Vol. 7, Pages 70: Quantifying Porosity through Automated Image Collection and Batch Image Processing: Case Study of Three Carbonates and an Aragonite Cemented Sandstone

      Modern scanning electron microscopes often include software that allows for the possibility of obtaining large format high-resolution image montages over areas of several square centimeters. Such montages are typically automatically acquired and stitched, comprising many thousand individual tiled images. Images, collected over a regular grid pattern, are a rich source of information on factors such as variability in porosity and distribution of mineral phases, but can be hard to visually interpret. Additional quantitative data can be accessed through the application of image analysis. We use backscattered electron (BSE) images, collected from polished thin sections of two limestone samples from the Cretaceous of Brazil, a Carboniferous limestone from Scotland, and a carbonate cemented sandstone from Northern Ireland, with up to 25,000 tiles per image, collecting numerical quantitative data on the distribution of porosity. Images were automatically collected using the FEI software Maps, batch processed by image analysis (through ImageJ), with results plotted on 2D contour plots with MATLAB. These plots numerically and visually clearly express the collected porosity data in an easily accessible form, and have application for the display of other data such as pore size, shape, grain size/shape, orientation and mineral distribution, as well as being of relevance to sandstone, mudrock and other porous media.

    • Planning spatial sampling of the soil from an uncertain reconnaissance variogram

      Planning spatial sampling of the soil from an uncertain reconnaissance variogram R. Murray Lark, Elliott M. Hamilton, Belinda Kaninga, Kakoma K. Maseka, Moola Mutondo, Godfrey M. Sakala, and Michael J. Watts SOIL Discuss., https//,2017 Manuscript under review for SOIL (discussion: open, 0 comments) An advantage of geostatistics for mapping soil properties is that, given a statistical model of the variable of interest, we can make a rational decision about how densely to sample so that the map is sufficiently precise. However, uncertainty about the statistical model affects this process. In this paper we show how Bayesian methods can be used to support decision making on sampling with an uncertain model, ensuring that the probability of meeting certain levels of precision is high enough.

    • Spatial variability in soil organic carbon in a tropical montane landscape: associations between soil organic carbon and land use, soil properties, vegetation, and topography vary across plot to landscape scales

      Spatial variability in soil organic carbon in a tropical montane landscape: associations between soil organic carbon and land use, soil properties, vegetation, and topography vary across plot to landscape scales Marleen de Blécourt, Marife D. Corre, Ekananda Paudel, Rhett D. Harrison, Rainer Brumme, and Edzo Veldkamp SOIL, 3, 123-137,, 2017 We examined the spatial variability in SOC in a 10 000 ha landscape in SW China. The spatial variability in SOC was largest at the plot scale (1 ha) and the associations between SOC and land use, soil properties, vegetation, and topographical attributes varied across plot to landscape scales. Our results show that sampling designs must consider the controlling factors at the scale of interest in order to elucidate their effects on SOC against the variability within and between plots.

    • Decision support for the selection of reference sites using 137Cs as a soil erosion tracer

      Decision support for the selection of reference sites using 137Cs as a soil erosion tracer Laura Arata, Katrin Meusburger, Alexandra Bürge, Markus Zehringer, Michael E. Ketterer, Lionel Mabit, and Christine Alewell SOIL, 3, 113-122,, 2017 The classical approach of using 137Cs as a soil erosion tracer is based on the comparison between stable reference sites and sites affected by soil redistribution processes; it enables the derivation of soil erosion and deposition rates. The method is associated with potentially large sources of uncertainty with major parts of this uncertainty being associated with the selection of the reference sites. We propose a decision support tool to Check the Suitability of reference Sites (CheSS). Commonly, the variation among 137Cs inventories of spatial replicate reference samples is taken as the sole criterion to decide on the suitability of a reference inventory. Here we propose an extension of this procedure using a repeated sampling approach, in which the reference sites are resampled after a certain time period. Suitable reference sites are expected to present no significant temporal variation in their decay-corrected 137Cs depth profiles. Possible causes of variation are assessed by a decision tree. More specifically, the decision tree tests for (i) uncertainty connected to small-scale variability in 137Cs due to its heterogeneous initial fallout (such as in areas affected by the Chernobyl fallout), (ii) signs of erosion or deposition processes and (iii) artefacts due to the collection, preparation and measurement of the samples; (iv) finally, if none of the above can be assigned, this variation might be attributed to turbation processes (e.g. bioturbation, cryoturbation and mechanical turbation, such as avalanches or rockfalls). CheSS was exemplarily applied in one Swiss alpine valley where the apparent temporal variability called into question the suitability of the selected reference sites. In general we suggest the application of CheSS as a first step towards a comprehensible approach to test for the suitability of reference sites.

    • Saturated and unsaturated salt transport in peat from a constructed fen

      Saturated and unsaturated salt transport in peat from a constructed fen Reuven B. Simhayov, Tobias K. D. Weber, and Jonathan S. Price SOIL Discuss., https//,2017 Manuscript under review for SOIL (discussion: open, 1 comment) To determine the underlying processes of solute transport in peat an experimental constructed fen peatland, soil hydraulic properties were measured and saturated and unsaturated solute breakthrough experiments were performed using Na+ and Cl− as reactive and non-reactive solutes, respectively. We tested the performanceof three solute transport models, including the classical equilibrium Convection-Dispersion Equation (CDE), a chemical non equilibrium one-site adsorption model (OSA) and a model to account for physical non-equilibrium, the mobile-immobile phases (MIM). The selection was motivated by the fact that the applicability of the MIM in peat soils finds a wide consensus. However, results from inverse modelling and a robust statistical evaluation of this peat provide evidence that the measured breakthrough of the conservative tracer, Cl− could be simulated well using the CDE. This is demonstrated by a very high Damköhler number (→infinity) suggesting instantaneous equilibration between the mobile and immobile phases; this underscores the redundancy of the MIM approach for this particular peat. Scanning electron microscope images of the peat show the typical multi-pore size distributions structure have been homogenised sufficiently by decomposition, such that physical non-equilibrium solute transport no longer governs the transport process. This is corroborated by the fact the soil hydraulic properties were adequately described using a unimodal van Genuchten-Mualem model between saturation and a pressure head of ~ −1000 cm of water. Hence, MIM is not the most suitable choice, and the long tailing of the Na+ breakthrough curve is caused by chemical non-equilibrium. Successful description was possible using the OSA model. To test our results for the unsaturated case, we conducted an unsaturated steady state evaporation experiment to drive Na+ and Cl− transport. Using the parameterised transport models from the saturated experiments, we could numerically simulate the unsaturated transport using Hydrus-1D. The simulation showed a good prediction of observed values, confirming the suitability of the parameters for use in a slightly unsaturated transport simulation. The findings improve the understanding of solute redistribution in the constructed fen.

    • Bone char effects on soil: sequential fractionations and XANES spectroscopy

      Bone char effects on soil: sequential fractionations and XANES spectroscopy Mohsen Morshedizad, Kerstin Panten, Wantana Klysubun, and Peter Leinweber SOIL Discuss., https//,2017 Manuscript under review for SOIL (discussion: final response, 2 comments) We investigated how the composition of bone char (BC) particles altered in soil and affected the soil P speciation by fractionation and X-ray absorption near edge structure spectroscopy. Bone char particles (BC from pyrolysis of bone chips and BCplus, a BC enriched with S compounds) collected at the end of incubation-leaching and ryegrass cultivation trials. Soil amendment with BCplus lead to elevated P concentrations and maintained more soluble P species than BC even after ryegrass growth.

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