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  Information - SSS20 Soil as a record of the past

Event Information
During the EGU 2005 General Assembly, a grand total of 23 communications were presented, within 8 different sessions, reporting significant utilizations of "soils of the past" to gather data concerning the most varied topics. This, against 5 papers presented in the session specifically dealing with Paleosols (SSS2).
What does this mean?
First, it means that the interest in the soil as a record is surging; in a sense, soil is already an "archive", so why a specialized session?
Second, it means that the need for the experimental ability to exploit the soil archive is growing. This signifies that major methodological issues concerning this point require further insight; it is well known that treatment of methodological issues gets a lot from open, possibly face-to-face, debate.
It goes without saying that the various sessions in which past soils information is, often widely, discussed are not the right places for such debate. The fellows in these sessions actually want to use the soil as a tool, and expect to get appropriate methodological suggestions from elsewhere.
The nature and extent of open methodological issues concerning the soil as a record is vast. Just to touch a relevant point, inadequate attention has been paid to the issue of taphonomy, an issue that is fundamental for many other kinds of past record investigation. This includes both "soil taphonomy", i.e. the problem of soil post-burial modification, wich affect buried soil identification, correlation and assessment as indicators, and "within-soil taphonomy", that is, the problems of formation and temporal evolution of soil-specific archives, like soil organic matter, biogenic opal, secondary carbonates etc.. Another "hot" topic is dating; soil is intrinsically more datable than most geologic deposits, but the specific methodological problems are serious and complex.
So, on one side, the need and importance of a specialised forum is clear-cut. An EGU session is naturally not the only one, and actually it is the junior one. However, it may take a special value from two different, unique, aspects. EGU is an extremely interdisciplinary forum; it is a specially great opportunity for meeting and discussing with the widest possible range of fellows from other disciplines, which may bring original and stimulating contributions. Second, EGU is not just about Quaternary, and has no focused time perspective. It is to be noted that methodological contributions from "pre-Quaternary" paleopedology are presently distinguishing themselves for originality, no doubt due to the harshness of the experimental problems faced. It is then quite a great chance to bring all studies about soils of the past together, from Carboniferous to historical archaeology, because there is a lot to learn.

Preliminary List of Solicited Speakers
R. Langohr; A.C. Scott


General Statement
The information contained hereafter has been compiled and uploaded by the Session Organizers via the "Organizer Session Form". The Session Organizers have therefore the sole responsibility that this information is true and accurate at the date of publication, and the conference organizer cannot accept any legal responsibility for any errors or omissions that may be made, and he makes no warranty, expressed or implied, with regard to the material published.

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