What Is Muskeg Soil, And Where Is It Found?

Sparsely wooded muskeg bog and marshland area in Estonia.
Sparsely wooded muskeg bog and marshland area in Estonia.

5. Physical Characteristics

The Muskeg variety of soil is a component of nutrient-poor peat lands. It has the characteristic features of being acidic, scattered, and saturated peat, and is found in the stunted coniferous forests that are set up in a matrix form, containing shorter ericaceous shrubs. Tamarack and black spruce are the most commonly found trees in the muskeg areas. It is seen that the muskeg soil is usually found in the areas once covered in glacial outflows. During periods of drought, fires often occur in these areas, which alters the hydrology and the floristic composition of the Muskeg regions.

4. Chemical Composition

This soil consists of dead plants, which are found in the state of decomposition as peat, humus, and the pieces of wood that are said to be forming some 15% of the peat soil. It is formed with the help of clay, permafrost and the bedrock, which helps in the prevention of water drainage. The soil is found to be acidic, wet and infertile, which do not allow large trees to grow but the species of willow, cottonwood, black spruce, and shore pine are found in the area. The soil formation is actually done when the dead plant falls over the land which is then attacked by fungi and bacteria, and it rots away whereas, if it falls in water, the decomposition process is quite different.

3. Where Is Muskeg Soil Found?

This Muskeg soil is said to be found in the flat, broad or the mild areas of depression in the glacial lake plains or the flows coming from them. This can also be found in the large depressions on the moraines or the pitted glacial flow ravines. The Muskeg soil is found to be occurring in the areas which are near the meandering streams and the lakes, such as those in the Hudson Bay Lowland. They are also found in Canada, which is approximately said to be 10,000 years old and are seen in the areas that are mostly covered by glaciers. It is seen that the acidic Muskeg is commonly found in the northern habitats, especially in the regions of bog lands.

2. Plants Suited To Grow In Muskeg

The plants that are suited for the growth in the Muskeg are sphagnum moss, evergreen shrubs, stunted conifer plants, and lower growing ericaceous shrubs. It is seen that the species of sphagnum occurs in the areas of elevation, which shows the resource partitioning. There are many herbs that grow well in this soil, and they include fringed-willow herbs, bog asters, fireweeds, and false mayflowers. The tree cover in the area is mostly found to be between 10% and 25%.

1. Considerations When Building Upon Muskeg

It is usually seen that many infrastructural components, when built upon the Muskeg soil, are at high risk of degradation. This is seen in Northern Ontario where railroads and trains have been swallowed by the soil, and some heavy construction material was also seen to have vanished into them in the spring seasons. For this reason, before working on this soil, large logs of wood are to placed on it, and then they should be covered by a layer of clay. In some places, a geotextile fabric is placed before the logs to further add stability to construction foundations.


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