Characterization of the Ashepoo-Combahee-Edisto (ACE) Basin, South Carolina

Soil Characteristics

Approximately 100 different soils are found in the ACE Basin. Five factors important in the formation of soils include the parent material, organisms, climate, relief or landscape position, and time (Jenny 1941). Oceans and rivers deposited most of the parent materials of soils in the ACE Basin. Additionally, parent materials formed from the calcareous remains of marine organisms produce sediments with near neutral to alkaline pH. In the ACE Basin, dwarf palmetto (Sabal minor) is a well-known indicator of calcareous sediments since this species requires neutral to alkaline soil pH. In the ACE Basin, wetland soils have a high organic content because anaerobic soil bacteria decompose matter less efficiently than aerobic bacteria.

The climate in the ACE Basin is conducive to relatively rapid rates of soil formation. Local relief is the environmental factor that has the greatest effect on soils of the ACE Basin study area. Changes in elevation of only a few feet produce major changes in soil properties. Soils formed in the ACE Basin are relatively young and the main types of soil landscapes are dune ridge and trough, flood plain/salt marsh, high sandy ridges, and low relief uplands. Understanding soil characteristics of the ACE Basin is important for determining the land use capabilities of each soil type. Each county that comprises the ACE Basin study area has its own soil survey that is available to all interested parties.