Chapter 7: Gleysolic Order

A diagrammatic representation of profiles of some subgroups of the Gleysolic order is shown in Figure 32. Individual subgroups may include soils that have horizon sequences different from those shown. In the description of each subgroup, presented later in this chapter, a common horizon sequence is given; diagnostic horizons are underlined and some other commonly occurring horizons are listed.

Figure 32: Diagrammatic horizon pattern of some subgroups of the Gleysolic order

Figure 32 is a Diagrammatic horizon pattern of some subgroups of the Gleysolic order. 
Rego Humic Gleysol (R.HG)
Common horizon sequence: LFH or O, Ah, Cg. These soils have the general properties specified for the Gleysolic order and the Humic Gleysol great group. They differ from Orthic Humic Gleysols in that they lack a B horizon at least 10 cm thick. Typically, they have a well-developed Ah horizon overlying a gleyed C horizon.
Orthic Humic Gleysol (O.HG)
Common horizon sequence: LFH or O, Ah, Bg, Cg. These soils have the general properties specified for the Gleysolic order and the Humic Gleysol great group. Typically, they have a well-developed Ah horizon overlying gleyed B and C horizons. They may have organic surface horizons, an eluvial horizon, and a C horizon that does not have the dull colors and mottling that indicate gleying. Orthic Humic Gleysols are identified by the following properties:
1.	They have an Ah horizon at least 10 cm thick as defined for the great group.
2.	They have a B horizon (Bg or Bgtj) at least 10 cm thick.
3.	They do not have any of the following: a Btg horizon, a solonetzic B horizon, or a Bgf horizon at least 10 cm thick.
Fera Humic Gleysol (FE.HG)
Common horizon sequence: LFH or O, Ah, Aeg, Bgf, Cg. These soils have the general properties specified for the Gleysolic order and the Humic Gleysol great group. They also have a Bgf horizon at least 10 cm thick and lack a solonetzic B horizon. The Bgf horizon contains accumulated hydrous iron oxide (dithionite extractable) thought to have been deposited as a result of the oxidation of ferrous iron. The Bgf horizon usually has many prominent mottles of high chroma.
Rego Gleysol (R.G)
Common horizon sequence: LFH or O, Cg. These soils have the general properties specified for the Gleysolic order and the Gleysol great group. They differ from Orthic Gleysols in that they lack a B horizon at least 10 cm thick. They thus consist of a gleyed C horizon, with or without organic surface horizons, and a thin Ah or B horizon.
Orthic Gleysol (O.G)
Common horizon sequence: LFH or O, Bg, Cg. These soils have the general properties specified for the Gleysolic order and the Gleysol great group. Typically, they have strongly gleyed B and C horizons and may have organic surface horizons and an eluvial horizon. Orthic Gleysols are identified by the following properties:
1.	They have a B horizon (Bg or Btjg) at least 10 cm thick.
2.	They may have an Ah or Ap horizon as specified for the Gleysol great group.
3.	They have neither a Btg horizon, nor a solonetzic B horizon, nor a Bgf horizon at least 10 cm thick.
Humic Luvic Gleysol (HU.LG)
Common horizon sequence: LFH or O, Ah, Aeg, Btg, Cg. These soils have the general properties specified for the Gleysolic order and the Luvic Gleysol great group. They have, in addition, a mineral-organic surface horizon that meets the requirements of the Ah or Ap horizon of Humic Gleysols. Thus, the Ah horizon must be at least 10 cm thick and the Ap horizon must be at least 15 cm thick, contain at least 2% organic carbon, and have a darker color than the underlying horizon. Humic Luvic Gleysols have neither a solonetzic B horizon nor a fragipan, but they may have a Bgf horizon.
Fera Luvic Gleysol (FE.LG)
Common horizon sequence: LFH or O, Ah, Aeg, Btgf or Bfg and Btg, Cg. These soils have the general properties specified for the Gleysolic order and the Luvic Gleysol great group. They also have either a Bgf horizon at least 10 cm thick as well as a Btg horizon or a Btgf horizon. A Bgf or Btgf horizon contains accumulated hydrous iron oxide (dithionite extractable), which is thought to have been deposited as a result of the oxidation of ferrous iron. It usually has a high chroma and is commonly a horizon with a concentration of rusty mottles. Fera Luvic Gleysols lack all the following: an Ah or Ap horizon diagnostic of Humic Luvic Gleysols, a solonetzic B horizon, and a fragipan.
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Gleysolic soils are defined on the basis of color and mottling, which are considered to indicate the influence of periodic or sustained reducing conditions during their genesis. The criteria that follow apply to all horizons except Ah, Ap, and Ae. However, if the Ae horizon is thicker than 20 cm and its lower boundary is more than 60 cm below the mineral soil surface, the criteria do apply to the Ae. Also, if the Ah or Ap horizon is thicker than 50 cm, the color criteria apply to the mineral horizon immediately below. Apart from these exceptions the criteria are as follows: Gleysolic soils have a horizon or subhorizon, at least 10 cm thick (the upper boundary of which occurs within 50 cm of the mineral surface), with moist colors, as follows:

  1. For all but red soil materials (hues of 5YR or redder where the soil color fades slowly upon treatment of the soil with dithionite).
    1. Dominant chromas of 1 or less or hues bluer than 10Y with or without mottles; or
    2. Dominant chromas of 2 or less in hues of 10YR and 7.5YR accompanied by prominent mottles 1 mm or larger in cross section and occupying at least 2% of the exposed, unsmeared 10 cm layer; or
    3. Dominant chromas of 3 or less in hues yellower than 10YR accompanied by prominent mottles 1 mm or larger in cross section and occupying at least 2% of the exposed, unsmeared 10 cm layer.
  2. For red soil materials (hues of 5YR or redder where the soil color fades slowly upon treatment of the soil with dithionite).
    1. Distinct or prominent mottles at least 1 mm in diameter occupy at least 2% of the exposed, unsmeared 10 cm layer.

Soils of the Gleysolic order have properties that indicate prolonged periods of intermittent or continuous saturation with water and reducing conditions during their genesis. Saturation with water may result from either a high groundwater table or temporary accumulation of water above a relatively impermeable layer, or both. In contrast, soils saturated periodically with aerated water or saturated for prolonged cold periods, which restricts biological activity without developing properties associated with reducing conditions, are not classified as Gleysols.

Gleysolic soils are associated with a number of different moisture regimes that may change during the genesis of the soil. They commonly have peraquic or aquic regimes, but some have aqueous regimes and others are now rarely, if ever, saturated with water. Those that are rarely saturated now presumably had aquic moisture regimes in the past and were once under reducing conditions. Drainage, isostatic uplift, or other factors have resulted in a changed moisture regime in these soils.

Gleysolic soils occur in association with other soils in the landscape, in some cases as the dominant soils, in others as a minor component. In areas of subhumid climate, Gleysolic soils occur commonly in shallow depressions and on level lowlands that are saturated with water every spring. In more humid areas, they may also occur on slopes and on undulating terrain. The native vegetation associated with Gleysolic soils commonly differs from that of associated soils of other orders.

Some notes on the basis of the color criteria follow. The criteria are based on color because it is the most easily observable and most useful indicator of the oxidation-reduction status prevailing during soil genesis. Redox potential (Eh) measured at several depths within pedons throughout the period when the soil is not frozen provides useful information on current redox conditions. Values of Eh of 100 mV or less are associated with reduced forms of Mn and Fe. Such values, however, indicate only present redox conditions, not those that existed over long periods during which the soil developed. Similarly, monitoring of moisture regime properties, such as depth to water table, provides valuable information on the present state of the soil, but it does not necessarily indicate the prevailing moisture regime during soil genesis.

Color criteria used for red soil materials are different from those used for material of other colors because even prolonged saturation and, presumably, reducing conditions have not been found to result in the development of drab gray colors in such materials. Usually, however, such soils are mottled in horizons near the surface. In some cases gray mottles occur in a reddish matrix, in others strong brown or yellowish-red mottles occur in a matrix of lower chroma. The dominant color is considered to be the matrix color.

Exceptions had to be made in applying the criteria to soils with Ah, Ap, or Ae horizons because chromas of 1 occur in some horizons of oxidized soils. Furthermore, prominent mottling may occur in Ae horizons overlying relatively impermeable horizons of generally oxidized soils. In the case of thick Ae horizons, however, prominent mottling in the upper part of the horizon is thought to indicate periodic reducing conditions near the surface. These exceptions have not been tested and will probably require adjustment.

The color criteria specify a minimum size and abundance of mottles in a subhorizon 10 cm thick or thicker, because it seems unreasonable to base classification at the order level on the occurrence of few or fine mottles in a thin layer. Care is required in estimating the abundance of mottles; smearing of ocherous material on the profile can result in overestimates, and failure to look for both inped and exped mottles can result in underestimates. The use of mottle charts facilitates estimates of abundance.

Distinguishing Gleysolic Soils from Soils of Other Orders

Listed below are guidelines for distinguishing Gleysolic soils from soils of other orders with which they might be confused.

Brunisolic Gleyed subgroups of Brunisolic soils are differentiated from Gleysolic soils on the evidence that gleying is too weakly expressed to meet the specifications of Gleysolic soils.

Chernozemic Some soils have a chernozemic A horizon and dull colors or mottling, indicating gleying within the control section. Those meeting the requirements specified for Gleysolic soils are classified in the Gleysolic order. Gleyed subgroups of the appropriate great group of Chernozemic soils have one or more of the following features within 50 cm, although the soils fail to meet criteria of the Gleysolic order; and low chromas or mottles (or both) below a depth of 50 cm.

Cryosolic Some Cryosolic soils have matrix colors of low chroma and prominent mottling within 50 cm of the surface similar to Gleysolic soils. Gleysolic soils, however, do not have permafrost within 1 m of the surface or 2 m if the soil is strongly cryoturbated.

Luvisolic Some soils have eluvial horizons, Bt horizons, and colors that indicate gleying within 50 cm of the mineral surface. Such soils are classified as Luvic Gleysols if gley colors as specified for the Gleysolic order occur in the Btg horizon within 50 cm of the mineral soil surface. If such gley colors occur only in the Aeg horizon (with the exception of thick Ae horizons as specified) or only below a depth of 50 cm, the soil is classified as a Gleyed subgroup of the appropriate great group in the Luvisolic order.

Organic Gleysolic soils may have organic surface layers, but they are too thin to meet the minimum limits specified for soils of the Organic order.

Podzolic A Podzolic B horizon takes precedence over gley features. Thus, soils having both a Podzolic B horizon and evidence of gleying that satisfies the specifications of Gleysolic soils are classified as Podzolic.

Regosolic Soils with no horizon differentiation, apart from evidence of gleying as specified for Gleysolic soils, are classified as Gleysolic.

Solonetzic Soils with both a Bn or Bnt horizon and evidence of gleying as specified for Gleysolic soils are classified as Solonetzic subgroups of the appropriate great groups of the Gleysolic order.

Vertisolic Some Gleysolic soils have a slickenside horizon but Vertisolic soils have both a vertic and a slickenside horizon. Gleysolic soils do not.

Gleysolic soils are divided into three great groups: Luvic Gleysol, Humic Gleysol, and Gleysol, which are separated based on the development of the Ah horizon and the presence or absence of a Bt horizon as shown in the Gleysolic order chart.

Gleysolic Order
  Luvic Gleysol Humic Gleysol Gleysol
Diagnostic horizons are underlined
A horizon usually an Ahe or an Aeg horizon Ah horizon at least 10 cm thick no Ah horizon or an Ah horizon <10 cm thick
B horizon Btg horizon no Btg horizon no Btg horizon


Great Group Subgroup

Note: The great groups and subgroups are arranged in the order in which they are keyed out. For example, if a Gleysolic soil has a Btg horizon it is classified as a Luvic Gleysol, regardless of whether or not it has any of the following: Ah, Bn, Bgf, or fragipan. The Luvic Gleysol is the first great group keyed out. Similarly, at the subgroup level, if a Luvic Gleysol has a Solonetzic B horizon it is classified as a Solonetzic Luvic Gleysol, regardless of whether or not it has any of the following: fragipan, Ah, or Bgf. In essence, any class at the great group or subgroup level as listed does not have the diagnostic properties of classes listed above it. For example, a Rego Gleysol does not have any of the following: a B horizon as defined for Orthic Gleysol, a Bgf horizon, or a Solonetzic B horizon.

Luvic Gleysol Vertic Luvic Gleysol V.LG
Solonetzic Luvic Gleysol SZ.LG
Fragic Luvic Gleysol FR.LG
Humic Luvic Gleysol HU.LG
Fera Luvic Gleysol FE.LG
Orthic Luvic Gleysol O.LG
Humic Gleysol Vertic Humic Gleysol V.HG
Solonetzic Humic Gleysol SZ.HG
Fera Humic Gleysol FE.HG
Orthic Humic Gleysol O.HG
Rego Humic Gleysol R.HG
Gleysol Vertic Gleysol V.G
Solonetzic Gleysol SZ.G
Fera Gleysol FE.G
Orthic Gleysol O.G
Rego Gleysol R.G

Source: The Canadian System of Soil Classification (Third Edition)