Abstract

Kiritimati, the largest land area atoll in the world, is undergoing rapid population increase, and, given the isolation of the island, local food production will have to be expanded to support the residents. Two soils investigations were completed in the 1960s, but no additional information on the soil resources of the island has been produced since that time. In this study, 15 soil profiles were described and analyzed. Where possible, comparison has been made with previous work, and discussion of the soil-forming factors is presented. Results confirm that soils are weakly developed (Entisols) with relatively low organic matter contents and low water-retention capacity. These properties are expected from the age of the parent materials and the relatively dry climate of the island. Total elemental analyses show that the soils contain very low concentrations of potassium and important trace elements (iron, manganese, copper, and zinc), which will limit any plant production. Classification of the soils identified eight soil families, mainly separated on the basis of content of larger coarse fragments and soil moisture regime, including the influence of groundwater. Comparison with previous studies showed that although different nomenclature and classification systems were used, similar soil patterns were observed, and the soils of Kiritimati are relatively unique in the Pacific islands.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-6188
Print ISSN
0030-8870
Pages
pp. 397-411
Launched on MUSE
2017-01-01
Open Access
No
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