Loop 2: Station 4
Bottomland soils and sediments
In the Piedmont nearly all lakes are manmade, usually the result of a dam constructed on a flowing stream to create a reservoir.
Damming a river reduces its velocity of flow and the energy that enables the stream to transmit sediment. As the waters slow, sediments fall from the water column and accumulate in the manmade impoundment. Due to repeated flood events, over time, the sediment deposits will rise above the ordinary lake level and create new land.
These geologically young bottomland soils are quite different from upland soils. These depositional soils are fertile due to the nutrients and organic matter mixed throughout, and have abundant moisture due to periodic flooding and shallow groundwater.
A wide variety of well-adapted vegetation quickly colonizes these new soils. Settlers recognized these bottomlands as the richest and most productive soils for agriculture.
What makes bottomland rich and productive?
Bottomland soils have higher organic matter, higher concentrations of primary and secondary plant nutrients, and less acidic conditions than upland soils of the Piedmont. They also have more favorable texture, structure, and moisture availability for plant growth.
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