Great Basin Naturalist


Soil compaction was measured at four sites within two abandoned mining camps in the western Great Basin Desert, Nevada. Bulk density and macroporosity values were generated from soil samples collected in areas of different land use intensities in camps that had been abandoned for approximately 70 years. Results show that significant differences remain in bulk density values between abandoned roads and undisturbed areas in both towns, and that the areas around foundation peripheries are still significantly more compacted in one town. There were no significant differences between land use groups as measured by macroporosity. Estimated soil recovery, based on a linear model using bulk density values, suggests that approximately 100 to 130 years are necessary for complete loosening to occur for abandoned roads, and that 100 or fewer years are necessary for complete amelioration of the foundation periphery areas. The wetter townsite, with more freeze-thaw days, finer-grained soils, and greater plant cover, had shorter recovery estimates. These finding suggest that the results of human-use impacts in arid areas may still be apparent long after disturbances cease.