Soil Resources of European Volcanic Systems


Hella - August 1999

  • Date of description: 28-08-1999
  • Authors: A.G. Jongmans, F. van Oort,  and O.  Arnalds
  • Location: South Iceland, Hella, 600m NE of the farm Ytri-Tunga, 30m from the north-end of a 2 gr. old ditch, depth about 2.5m.
  • Altitude:  50 m  
  • GPS coordinates:     x 529400,
                                      y 7082600
  • Classification: Andosol


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Soil Climate; Cryic/ Frigid temperature regime; Udic moisture regime; annual rainfall: 1150 mm, mean annual temperature 4.50 C, mild winters but cool summers, 4-5 month growing season; became wetland with two drier and warmer periods when Birch forest dominated
Landform: Flat, with low gently sloping hills in between
Land element: Glacial plain, South Lowlands
Position: Middle slope
Micro topography : Hummocky level area
Landuse/Vegetation: Moderately grazed by horses; grass cover > 90%; Festuca rubra, Poa pratensis, and  Descamptsia sp.
Human influences: Very noticable environmental change about the Settlement 1125 yrs ago, increased aeolian deposition resulted in higher mineral content in the sediments and lighter soil colours; Profile is situated in a 2 yrs old ditch, 2.5 m deep
Parent material: 2.5-3m thick aeolian, tephra and organic materials. Site is near Mt Hekla and much influenced by volcanic activity in Hekla and Katla.
Effective soil depth: Moderately deep
Erosion: None
Drainage class: Somewhat poorly drained.
Internal drainage: Saturated for long periods, moderately-slow hydraulic conductivity (?)
Moisture conditions: Moist


A1:  0-60 cm; 5YR 3/3; loam; the horizon has a high organic matter content; locally pockets of angular, fine gravely and sandy material; disturbed stratification, the entire horizon shows features of cryoturbation; the under horizon limit is market by a basaltic ash layer of 5 cm, 2.5YR 2.5/0 with a loamy sand texture; friable; common fine to medium roots; clear and wavy to:
H1:  60-95 cm 7.5YR 3/3; stratified horizon consisting of plant remnants; friable; common fine and medium roots; occurrence of discontinuous fine bands of basaltic ash; clear and wavy to:
C:   95-100cm; 10YR 3/2, with light spots of sand grains, 10YR 6/4; no macro structure; friable; few fine roots; abrupt and wavy to:
2H:  100-230 cm; 5YR 2.5/1.5; stratified horizon consisting of organic material with aeolian mineral and basaltic pyroclastic (2.5YR 2/0) layers with a loamy sand texture and ranging in thickness from 1-10 cm; at 160 cm some mineral layers up to 2 cm consisting of lighter coloured ryolitic material; organic material and ash layers are friable; at 120 and 170 cm wood remnants of birch up to 20-30 cm in size.

Last modified 13 May 2002 by EG