Signatures of Obliquity and Eccentricity in Soil Chronosequences

Christopher Shepard, Jon D. Pelletier, Marcel G. Schaap, Craig Rasmussen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Periodic shifts in Earth's orbit alter incoming solar radiation and drive Quaternary climate cycles. However, unambiguous detection of these orbitally driven climatic changes in records of terrestrial sedimentation and pedogenesis remains poorly defined, limiting our understanding of climate change-landscape feedbacks, impairing our interpretation of terrestrial paleoclimate proxies, and limiting linkages among pedogenesis, sedimentation, and paleoclimatic change. Using a meta-analysis, we show that Quaternary soil ages preserved in the modern record have periodicities of 41 and 98 kyr, consistent with orbital cycles. Further, soil ages predominantly date to periods of low rates of climatic change following rapid climate shifts associated with glacial-to-interglacial transitions. Soil age appears linked to orbital cycles via climate-modulated sediment deposition, which may largely constrain soil formation to distinct climate periods. These data demonstrate a record of widespread orbital cyclicity in sediment deposition and subsequent pedogenesis, providing a key insight into soil-landscape evolution and terrestrial paleo-environment changes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11,147-11,153
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number20
StatePublished - Oct 28 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Kristie Gallardo, Molly van Dop, and Irma Perez for help in extracting chronosequence data for this study. Support for C. S. came from the University Fellows program at the University of Arizona and the University of Arizona/NASA Space Grant Graduate Fellowship. This research was funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation grant EAR-1331408 in support of the Santa Catalina-Jemez River Basin Critical Zone Observatory. All data are available from the references included in Tables S1 and S2, and as cited. The authors have no conflicts of or competing interests.

Publisher Copyright:
©2018. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.


  • Quaternary climate cycles
  • landscape evolution
  • orbital periodicity
  • paleoclimate
  • soil chronosequences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (all)


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