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Episodes 2021; 44(2): 115-127

Published online June 1, 2021


Copyright © International Union of Geological Sciences.

Spatiotemporal soil development in the Pindari proglacial area (Indian Central Himalaya)

by Paweł Prokop1*, Zofia Rączkowska1, and Ramesh Ch. Joshi2

1 Institute of Geography and Spatial Organization, Polish Academy of Sciences, Jana 22, 31-018 Kraków, Poland
2 Department of Geography, Kumaun University, Nainital, 263002, Uttarakhand, India

Correspondence to:*E-mail: pawel@zg.pan.krakow.pl

Received: December 15, 2019; Revised: July 21, 2020; Accepted: July 21, 2020

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0) which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Factors governing the spatiotemporal soil development on a deglaciated area of Pindari Glacier in the Indian Central Himalaya were investigated over a timespan of 170 years. Glacier retreat exposed sediments to weathering, decarbonation, illuviation, acidification and melanisation. The spatiotemporal scales of soil transformation in this proglacial environment are significantly greater than in other chronosequences in the alpine environment. The accumulation of SOC and N in the oldest moraine is reflected in high accumulation rates of 52.6 g C m–2 year–1 and 4.8 g N m–2 year–1 in the 20-cm deep soil layer. Reference data from the topsoil of the rhododendron woodlands indicate that the oldest moraine topsoil is close to reaching some sort of a steady state. At least 100 years was required to stabilise the soil cover in most of the proglacial area. The results highlight the importance of rapid glacier retreat as well as inhibited weathering due to plant succession in soil formation, under impact of local climate characterized by high precipitation, temperatures and moisture delivery.