Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Loess Letter collage

Loess Letter collage- by Balazs Bradak [not influenced by Kurt Schwitters].  Find Loess Letter now at www.loessletter.msu.edu- thanks to Randall Schaetzl and the Michigan State University..

Loess Letter [0110-7658]

Some notes on Loess Letter. LL was founded in 1979, at the New Zealand Soil Bureau in Lower Hutt, just north of Wellington, in the North Island of New Zealand. It was the newsletter of the newly launched Western Pacific Working Group of the Loess Commission of the International Union for Quaternary Research INQUA. At the full-scale INQUA meeting in Birmingham UK in 1977 the Loess Commission had passed from the charge of Julius Fink to Marton Pecsi. MP wanted to enlarge the scope of the Commission, and this chimed nicely with the proposal of Jim Bowler of ANU for a Working Group to concentrate on research in China, Australia and New Zealand.

The WPWG was properly constituted at a meeting of the Australia and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science ANZAAS in Auckland in January 1979. There was to be an initial field meeting in Australia, and the NZ contingent would produce a newsletter for the group. Large efforts would be made to involve  Chinese scholars in the enterprise. And in fact Liu Tung sheng visited the Soil Bureau in 1980, to discuss matters loessic and to set his seal of approval on the undertaking. He wrote a title for Loess Letter- which it carried proudly:

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Loess in Russia V: N.Ya.Denisov

Nikolai Yakovlevich Denisov 1908-1966. Notes from the obituary in Osnovaniya, Fundamenty i Mekhanika Gruntov no.6, p.40, November-December 1966.

N.Ya.Denisov began his career in 1924, working at first on the railways and then as a miner. After graduating in 1932 from the North Caucasus Geological Exploration Institute he devoted his life to scientific and pedagogical activity. In 1936 he received the degree of candidate of geological and mineralogical sciences; in 1943 he defended his doctoral thesis; in 1944 he received the rank of professor, and from 1946 he was head of the department of Engineering Geology at the Moscow Civil Engineering Institute.

He worked on loess ground and became well known for several monographs: Nature of Slumping Phenomena in Loess Loams, and Construction Properties of Loess and Loessial Loams. Denisov made many suggestions concerning new methods of construction on slumping, swelling, and weak clay soils. In all, he published more than 100 works.


Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Loess in Russia IV: Simple Sketch Map

This is a very experimental map- hardly a map at all; more like an exercise or puzzle- fit the Soviet Union into a 2:1 rectangle.  (Very roughly) it shows the great rivers, and the mountainous regions to the south and east, and hints at the glaciated regions in the north and the west.  The top map shows the locations of the loess regions investigated by Jiri Chlachula (2003  The Siberian loess record and its significance for reconstruction of Pleistocene climate change in north-central Asia. Quaternary Science Reviews 22, 1879-1906). This is loess in Siberia.

That's the science in the top map; the lower map has some classification and deterministic speculation. The P symbols show locations of loess material production- by mountain glaciers or continental glaciation. Rivers carry this material towards places of deposition. The J regions are those places proposed by Jefferson et al in their classification of loess in the Soviet Union. Of course now that we are looking at loess in Russia we lose some of J1 the western loess, J2 the Caucasus, and J3 Central Asia. The J5, J6 and J7 regions contain the Chlachula observations.

Monday, 12 December 2016

Loess in Russia III: Andrei Dodonov

Remembering Andrei Dodonov 1940-2008; a distinguished loessperson.. a great Russian.

Friday, 9 December 2016

Loess in Russia II: Trofimov in Europe

Another sketch map- this one from V.T.Trofimov's 2001 book on Loess. This really is a simple map but its a very satisfactory map. That large patch of loess is called the USWR loess, its region J1 on the Jefferson classification of loess in the Soviet Union. This by far the largest and most important patch of loess in the region that was the Soviet Union. Here the great problems of hydrocollapse and subsidence were encountered- just there by Rostov-on-Don was the Atommash factory where one of the classic subsidence failures occurred.
The J1 loess is glacial loess; this really is glacial loess- the particles made by continental glaciers- and then distributed by the rivers Dnepr, Don & Volga; all nicely shown. In the region were the great loess research institutes at Kiev, Dneprpetrovk and Moscow.  In this region (just to the NW) the ideas about Russian loess were shaped- at Leningrad, by Dokuchaev and Berg.

Here is the Black Earth- the default chernozem- the last great hope of Mankind. The FAO has estimated that in Eurasia about half of the chernozem soils remain to be exploited; we shall have enough to eat for a few more years. Chernozem forms in loess; parent material is more important than climate; Berg believed the opposite- in some places the discussion is still going on..

Monday, 5 December 2016

Loess in Russia I

Loess in Russia; Loess in Russia proper; Loess in the Russian language; Loess within the confines of the Soviet Union. A major target for loess scholars- closing the gap between loess studies in Russian, and loess studies in western languages, in particular English. A useful reference:

Jefferson, I.F., Evstatiev, D., Karastenev, D., Mavlyanova, N.G., Smalley, I.J.  2003.  Engineering geology of loess and loess-like deposits: a commentary on the Russian literature.  Engineering Geology 68, 333-351. 

This is our starting point; its an EG paper but its of general loess interest.  The Abelev & Abelev 1968 map of loess in the Soviet Union was reprinted and used as a basis for regional labelling. The Abelev Abelev map is now old and it is nominally an EG map but it does give a clear view of the various regions; not a clear and detailed view- but then there was no Soviet map which gave a clear and detailed view of loess distribution.  We shall call them Jefferson J regions for convenience:

J1  The Western regions
J2  The Caucasus
J3  Middle Asia & southern Kazakhstan
J4  Western Siberia: Orsk-Omsk
J5  Tomsk-Barnaul
J6  Kansk-Krasnoyarsk
J7  Irkutsk