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The soils of Russian Altai highlands were used as a paleoenvironmental archive, as a source of dating material, and as a chronostratigraphic marker to describe Holocene environmental change in the studied area. Based on calibration intervals of 14C dates obtained for buried humus horizons (11 buried soils in 6 studied soil-sedimentary sequences) and some dates from pendants of contemporary soils, following stages of pedogenesis were recorded in studied soil-sedimentary systems and surface soils: 6.4 – 11.5 ky cal BP; about 4.9-5.3 cal BP; 2.5-3.8 cal BP; 0.6 – 1.2 cal BP. All studied surface soils in the basins nowadays develop in cold, ultra-continental water deficit conditions: Skeletic Kastanozems Cambic, Skeletic Cambisols Protocalcic, Skeletic Cambic Calcisol Yermic. The most extreme conditions of soil formation within Holocene were within the last 1-2 kyr. All buried soils were formed in better conditions, more balanced in water, with higher biological activity, mostly within steppe or forest-steppe landscapes. Cryogenic features had been insisting all over the Holocene till nowadays. Water demandant cryogenic features are met in buried soils up to the age of 1-2 ky cal BP. In the last millennia cryogenic processes are suppressed, water demandant features gave way to those which can be formed in contemporary water deficit conditions: simple fissures, frost sorting, and shattering. At lower levels (Kuraj basin) more or less arid cold steppe conditions insisted within the most part of Holocene. Initial stages of soil formation were often ground water affected, or at least shortly waterlogged. At the highest positions humid and relatively warm Early Holocene stage of forest pedogenesis is recorded for the beginning of Holocene, and a Late Holocene (last 3-4 kyr) cold humid phase, presumably under mountain tundra and/or alpines. Microsedimentary intra-soil record in carbonatehumus pendants imprints fine fluctuations of soil water regime at initial stages of soil formation, controlled by local topography, and climatic changes in the second half of Holocene. General trends of environmental changes in the region recorded in soil and soil sedimentary systems are in well correspondence with other records of paleonvironment.

About the Authors

Maria A. Bronnikova
Institute of Geography Russian Academy of Sciences
Russian Federation

Yuliya V. Konoplianikova
Institute of Geography Russian Academy of Sciences; Lomonosov Moscow State University
Russian Federation

Anna R. Agatova
Sobolev Institute of Geology and Mineralogy, Siberian Division, Russian Academy of Sciences, Novosibirsk; Ural Federal University, Yekaterinburg
Russian Federation

Roman K. Nepop
Sobolev Institute of Geology and Mineralogy, Siberian Division, Russian Academy of Sciences, Novosibirsk; Ural Federal University, Yekaterinburg
Russian Federation

Marina P. Lebedeva
Institute of Geography Russian Academy of Sciences; V.V. Dokuchaev Soil Science Institute
Russian Federation


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