Anthroweathering: Theoretical Framework and Case Study for Human-Impacted Weathering

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Anthropogenic organic compounds and pollutants are routinely used to indicate human presence in anthrosols, but little is understood about human impact on pedogenic processes. This article addresses human impacts on pedogenic rock and mineral weathering. Relatively unexplored from the soil perspective, human impacts on the weathering system can be locally significant and relevant to studies in geoarchaeology, geomorphology, and ecology. The article provides a theoretical framework for human-impacted weathering, and presents a case study of "anthroweathering" at a Hohokam pit house excavated in central Arizona. Mineral grains, sampled from within and outside the pit house, were observed using backscatter electron microscopy. A statistically significant difference was found between impacted and less-impacted samples, with more weathering under areas of greater human impact. Accordingly, soil profile descriptions suggest increased chemical activity within and under the pit house anthrosol. These observations attest to the potential application of anthroweathering toward the identification and analysis of cultural remains and toward an assessment of environmental degradation



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