Effect of soil texture and calcium carbonate on laboratory-generated dust emissions from SW North America



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Understanding the controls of mineral dust emissions and their particle size distributions during wind-erosion events is critical as dust particles play a significant impact in shaping the earth’s climate. It has been suggested that emission rates and particle size distributions are independent of soil chemistry and soil texture. In this study, 37 samples of wind-erodible surface soils from the High Plains regions of Texas, New Mexico and Colorado were analyzed by the Lubbock Dust Generation, Analysis and Sampling System (LDGASS) and a Beckman-Coulter particle multisizer. The LDGASS created dust emissions in a controlled laboratory setting using a rotating arm, which allows particle collisions. The emitted dust was transferred to a chamber where particulate matter concentration was recorded using a DataRam and MiniVol filter and dust particle size distribution was recorded using a GRIMM particle analyzer. Particle size analysis was also determined from samples deposited on the Mini-Vol filters using a Beckman-Coulter particle multisizer. Soil textures of source samples ranged from sands and sandy loams to clays and silts. Results suggest that total dust emissions increased with increasing soil clay and silt content and decreased with increasing sand content. Particle size distribution analysis showed a similar relationship; soils with high silt content produced the widest range of dust particle sizes and the smallest dust particles. Sand grains produce the largest dust particles. The chemical control on dust emissions by calcium carbonate content is also discussed.