Our objective was to develop and validate a regional model for CaCO3 deposition in desert soils of the southwestern United States. There were five major components in the simulation model: a stochastic precipitation model, an evapotranspiration model, chemical thermodynamic relationships, soil parameterization, and a soil water and CaCO3 flux model.
For the present climate, a cold-dry Pleistocene climate, and a cool-wet (summer) Pleistocene climate, the model predicted a shallower depth for the calcic horizon than was found in field soils. However, the model was compatible with field soils if one assumed that most pedogenic carbonate formed during a cool-wet (winter) Pleistocene climate. The model was highly sensitive to the frequency of extreme precipitation events and to soil water-holding capacity. The biotic factor played an important role in CaCO3 deposition through its control of soil CO2 concentrations and evapotranspiration rates. The range in predicted CaCO3 deposition rates agreed with the rates for most field studies (1 to 5 g/m2/yr); also, the model predicted an increasing rate of CaCO3 deposition with increasing precipitation, which agreed with field studies. The model is a valuable research tool for evaluating the role of state factors on soil CaCO3 deposition.
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