• Geosciences, Vol. 7, Pages 106: Detecting Landscape Disturbance at the Nasca Lines Using SAR Data Collected from Airborne and Satellite Platforms

      We used synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data collected over Peru’s Lines and Geoglyphs of the Nasca and Palpa World Heritage Site to detect and measure landscape disturbance threatening world-renowned archaeological features and ecosystems. We employed algorithms to calculate correlations between pairs of SAR returns, collected at different times, and generate correlation images. Landscape disturbances even on the scale of pedestrian travel are discernible in correlation images generated from airborne, L-band SAR. Correlation images derived from C-band SAR data collected by the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-1 satellites also provide detailed landscape change information. Because the two Sentinel-1 satellites together have a repeat pass interval that can be as short as six days, products derived from their data can not only provide information on the location and degree of ground disturbance, but also identify a time window of about one to three weeks during which disturbance must have occurred. For Sentinel-1, this does not depend on collecting data in fine-beam modes, which generally sacrifice the size of the area covered for a higher spatial resolution. We also report on pixel value stretching for a visual analysis of SAR data, quantitative assessment of landscape disturbance, and statistical testing for significant landscape change.

    • Geosciences, Vol. 7, Pages 105: SAR Imaging of Archaeological Sites on Intertidal Flats in the German Wadden Sea

      We show that high-resolution space-borne synthetic aperture radar (SAR) imagery with pixel sizes smaller than 1 m2 can be used to complement archaeological surveys on intertidal flats. After major storm surges in the 14th and 17th centuries (“Grote Mandrenke”), vast areas on the German North Sea coast were lost to the sea. Areas of settlements and historical farmland were buried under sediments for centuries, but when the surface layer is driven away under the action of wind, currents, and waves, they appear again on the Wadden Sea surface. However, frequent flooding and erosion of the intertidal flats make any archaeological monitoring a difficult task, so that remote sensing techniques appear to be an efficient and cost-effective instrument for any archaeological surveillance of that area. Space-borne SAR images clearly show remains of farmhouse foundations and of former systems of ditches, dating back to the times before the “Grote Mandrenke”. In particular, the very high-resolution acquisition (“staring spotlight”) mode of the TerraSAR/TanDEM-X satellites allows detecting various kinds of remains of historical land use at high precision. Moreover, SARs working at lower microwave frequencies (e.g., that on Radarsat-2) may complement archaeological surveys of historical cultural traces, some of which have been unknown so far.

    • Geosciences, Vol. 7, Pages 104: Geoarchaeological Core Prospection as a Tool to Validate Archaeological Interpretation Based on Geophysical Data at the Roman Settlement of Auritz/Burguete and Aurizberri/Espinal (Navarre)

      Geophysical survey methods are broadly used to delimit and characterize archaeological sites, but the archaeological interpretation of geophysical data remains one of the challenges. Indeed, many scenarios can generate a similar geophysical response, and often interpretations can not be validated without access to the subsoil. In large geophysical surveys many anomalies are detected and validation through archaeological trenches can not be afforded. This paper analyses the validity of geoarchaeological core survey to check the archaeological interpretations based on geophysical results. The Roman site located at Auritz/Burguete and Aurizberri/Espinal (Navarre), provides a great case of study as many investigations have been carried out. After the gradiometer survey performed in 2013 a sediment core survey was designed. 132 cores were drilled using a hand-held coring machine and the sediments were analysed in situ. Site delimitation and archaeological interpretations based on magnetic data could be improved or corrected. In this regard, the core survey proved to be an useful methodology as many anomalies could be checked within reasonable time and resources. However, further geophysical investigations trough GPR revealed unexpected remains in areas where no archaeological deposits were identified through coring. Excavations showed poor conservation level in some of those areas, leading to thin archaeological deposits hard to identify at the cores. The sediment core survey, therefore, was proved to be inconclusive to delimit the archaeological site.

    • Geosciences, Vol. 7, Pages 101: The Nature and Articulation of Ethical Codes on Tailings Management in South Africa

      It is well recognized that the mining industry in South Africa is highly rated for its substantial contribution to the country’s economic growth, including employment and infrastructural development. It is also known that mining and ore processing activities potentially pose a severe threat to public health and environmental well-being, in the way operations are carried out, mine wastes are disposed of (in dumps), local communities are relocated, mine management and the mining community, in general, perceive established environmental standards and etiquette. This paper examines ethical practices and norms in the South African mining industry, with particular reference to the management of tailings dams. We analyse the modes of articulation of the country’s regulatory instruments for tailings management, and review the corporate social responsibility (CSR) approach of leading mining companies. Despite decades of research and resulting recommendations on tailings management, it is concluded that the current legislations are largely ineffective, that the level of adherence by mine management and the mining community is low, and that the mechanisms for compliance monitoring is weak. New perspectives on legislative issues for unsolved problems in tailings handling are put forward, and directions for future research, indicated.

    • Geosciences, Vol. 7, Pages 103: Geometric Analysis on Stone Façades with Terrestrial Laser Scanner Technology

      This article presents a methodology to process information from a Terrestrial Laser Scanner (TLS) from three dimensions (3D) to two dimensions (2D), and to two dimensions with a color value (2.5D), as a tool to document and analyze heritage buildings. Principally focused on the loss of material in stone, this study aims at creating an evaluation method for loss control, taking into account the state of conservation of a building in terms of restoration, from studying the pathologies, to their identification and delimitation. A case study on the Cathedral of the Seu Vella de Lleida was completed, examining the details of the stone surfaces. This cathedral was affected by military use, periods of abandonment, and periodic restorations.

    • How serious a problem is soil compaction in the Netherlands? A survey based on probability sampling

      How serious a problem is soil compaction in the Netherlands? A survey based on probability sampling Dick J. Brus and Jan J. H. van den Akker SOIL Discuss., https//,2017 Manuscript under review for SOIL (discussion: open, 0 comments) Soil compaction is an important soil threat. It is caused by heavy machines used in agriculture. The aim of this study was to estimate how large the area with overcompacted soils is in the Netherlands. This was done by selecting locations randomly, and determining the porosity and bulk density of the soil at these locations. It appeared that 45 % of the soils in the Netherlands are overcompacted, and so we conclude that soil compaction is a serious problem in the Netherlands indeed.

    • Sustainable soil management requires a systemic approach

      Sustainable soil management requires a systemic approach Hans-Jörg Vogel, Stephan Bartke, Katrin Daedlow, Katharina Helming, Ingrid Kögel-Knabner, Birgit Lang, Eva Rabot, David Russell, Bastian Stößel, Ulrich Weller, Martin Wiesmeier, and Ute Wollschläger SOIL Discuss., https//,2017 Manuscript under review for SOIL (discussion: open, 1 comment) This paper deals with the importance of soil for our terrestrial environment and the need to predict the impact of soil management on the multitude of functions that soil provide. We suggest to consider soil as self organized complex systems and provide a concept how this could be achieved. This includes how soil research, currently fragmented into a number of more or less disjunct disciplines, may be integrated to substantially contribute to a science-based evaluation of soil functions.

    • Potential short-term losses of N2O and N2 from high concentrations of biogas digestate in arable soils

      Potential short-term losses of N2O and N2 from high concentrations of biogas digestate in arable soils Sebastian Rainer Fiedler, Jürgen Augustin, Nicole Wrage-Mönnig, Gerald Jurasinski, Bertram Gusovius, and Stephan Glatzel SOIL, 3, 161-176,, 2017 Injection of biogas digestates (BDs) is suspected to increase losses of N2O and thus to counterbalance prevented NH3 emissions. We determined N2O and N2 losses after mixing high concentrations of BD into two soils by an incubation under an artificial helium–oxygen atmosphere. Emissions did not increase with the application rate of BD, probably due to an inhibitory effect of the high NH4+ content in BD on nitrification. However, cumulated gaseous N losses may effectively offset NH3 reductions.

    • How Alexander von Humboldt's life story can inspire innovative soil research in developing countries

      How Alexander von Humboldt's life story can inspire innovative soil research in developing countries Johan Bouma SOIL, 3, 153-159,, 2017 Alexander von Humboldt was an inspiring scientist in the early 1800s, traveling widely, making many measurements, and linking different scientific disciplines while keeping an eye open to the needs of society. This is particularly relevant today in our information society, and researchers in developing countries are advised to follow the von Humboldt example when planning their future research.

    • A deeper look at the relationship between root carbon pools and the vertical distribution of the soil carbon pool

      A deeper look at the relationship between root carbon pools and the vertical distribution of the soil carbon pool Ranae Dietzel, Matt Liebman, and Sotirios Archontoulis SOIL, 3, 139-152,, 2017 Roots deeper in the soil are made up of more carbon and less nitrogen compared to roots at shallower depths, which may help explain deep-carbon origin. A comparison of prairie and maize rooting systems showed that in moving from prairie to maize, a large, structural-tissue-dominated root carbon pool with slow turnover concentrated at shallow depths was replaced by a small, nonstructural-tissue-dominated root carbon pool with fast turnover evenly distributed in the soil profile.

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