Jorge Mataix-Solera (University Miguel Hernández, Spain)
This soil profile picture was observed during a field trip in “Sierra de la Grana”, Torremanzanas, Alicante, Spain. It is quite unusual to observe a soil like this in the area, with such a deep mollic horizon. In Spanish Mediterranean landscapes, the history of land use does not allow soil to reach the climax status. In this case, the well-preserved vegetation together with microclimatic conditions, around 600 mm of annual precipitation and the almost flat topography in the upper northern slope of the mountain allowed the genesis of this impressive soil profile.
According to the Soil Taxonomy, this soil is classified as a Mollisol because of the mollic A horizon (high organic matter content and base saturation), a Xeroll because of the xeric moisture regime, and a Calcixeroll at the group level by the presence of a Calcic (Bk) horizon. As the mollic horizon is much deeper than 50 cm, the soil can be classified as a Pachic Calcixeroll at the subgroup level.
The high quality of this type of soils in the northern slopes of some mountain areas of the Mediterranean basin provides them a high resilience to common perturbations such as forest fires.