Technosol Library


A former uranium mill tailings site near Rifle, Colorado, is next to the Colorado River.
Photo credit: John Bargar, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.



Proposal for a Technosol Library (2014)


Technosols comprise a new reference soil group (RSG) and combine soils whose properties and pedogenesis are dominated by their technical origin. They contain a significant amount of artefacts (something in the soil recognizably made or extracted from the earth by humans), or are sealed by technic hard rock (material created by humans, having properties unlike natural rock). They include soils from wastes (landfills, sludge, cinders, mine spoils and ashes), pavements with their underlying unconsolidated materials, soils with geomembranes and constructed soils in human-made materials. Technosols are often referred to as urban or mine soils. They are recognized in the new Russian soil classification system as Technogenic Superficial Formations. IUSS Working Group WRB. 2006

Anyone may contribute a technogenic soil sample to the library.

Each soil sample will form a research volume across two sites:

1. As housed in the library proposed for Gallery 8 (see image)


2. In situ with the perimeter to be designated by the contributor

The site where soil has been drawn will be inscribed with a plaque, perimeter boundary, cement cap or other appropriate marker.

Prototype submissions might include spolic technosols from Francistown, Botswana, Al-Fe-humus soils impacted by sulphur dioxide and heavy metals from copper-nickel smelters in the Kola Peninsula, Russia, or colombite and tantalite (coltan) pegmatite-soil mixtures from Gatumba, Rwanda.

Guidelines for safe storage and handling of the volumes will be developed, owing to the hazards of shipping, viewing, and storing toxic, infectious, and radioactive materials.

Note: These soils are subject to change in situ, based on pedogenic factors including changes in climate, land use, microorganisms, and mineral composition.