Dunmore hill is 330 million years old and located in the Campsie fells. The Campsie fells are a range of rolling hills in central Scotland along the Ochil fault. This is an example of a scarp fault which is a small offset on the ground surface where one side of a fault has moved vertically with respect to the other. Dunmore is made up of Basalt which is a dark colored, fine grained igneous rock. This forms when lava reaches the earth’s surface at a volcano or mid ocean ridge. This will affect soil depth because the hard rock takes longer to whether which results in thinner soils. Basalt is also an acidic rock. This will affect the soil pH as an acidic parent rock will produce acidic soils.
The height of Dunmore is 343 metres tall. This will affect the air temperature as for every 100m climbed the temperature will decrease by 1 degress Celsius. This cold temperature will also affect the soil depth as soils develop slower in colder environments. Due to its location on the Campsie fells, Dunmore is host to a variety of land uses. The hill is used for hill sheep farming by farmers and is a favoured walking route for hikers. This is key as both hikers and sheep will trample on the ground which compacts the soil and the height of vegetation and will affect my results. Dunmore is a north facing hill so will mostly be shaded from the sun. This means that soil temperature will be lower, affecting my results.
A key feature of Dunmore is a truncated spur. This is formed when a glacier cuts through a v-shaped valley and its interlocking spurs through abrasion. Abrasion is when rocks and stones embedded in the base and sides of a glacier scrape against the bedrock as the glacier moves, eroding the rock through friction and leaving behind a smooth polished surface. This process of glaciation is important to know as it has effected the way the ground slopes on the hill. A forest is located at the base of Dunmore. This creates rough obstacles that decrease wind speed. At the top of the hill vegetation is short so winds are faster. This is known as wind gradient. The air pressure at the top of the hill is lower, meaning its easier for winds to pass so are therefore faster.
This is important as it will affect my results for wind speed. As I climb to the summit of Dunmore I expect the following changes; Air and soil temperature to decrease Wind speed to increase Soil depth to decrease Soil pH to become more acidic Soil to become more compact
To measure soil depth I used a soil auger. At each site I positioned the auger 90 degrees to the slope of the hill so as the reading was and twisted it until it hit bed rock. As soon as the auger hit bedrock or clay I put my finger where it hit the top of the ground and measured it with a metre stick. I repeated this method three times at each site one after an another and took an average so as my results were reliable and accurate. To measure slope angle I used a clinometer and two meter sticks. To set up one-meter stick was placed five meters uphill from the first and both were held parallel to one another. Using the clinometer and with my eye at 0 degrees I looked along the straight edge and angled the clinometer until it pointed towards the second meter stick. At this moment I released the weight and let the weight settle before recording the angle. To make my results more reliable I repeated this method three times and took an average from each site.
At site one the wind speed is 3.7mph and at site 10 the wind speed is 11.7mph. This is an increase of 8mph from the foot of Dunmore to the summit. This is due to Wind Gradient which causes the wind speed to decrease the closer to the ground you get. One factor which influences wind speed is surface friction caused by obstacles. For example, the thick tree cover at site 1 makes for a rough surface and hence decreases the wind speed. At site 10 however there are less trees, so the wind is not blocked to the same degree and is therefore faster. The increase in wind speed at site 10 can also be explained by the difference in pressure caused by the higher altitude. Air pressure is lower at higher altitudes which makes the air less dense. The lighter density of the air makes it easier to push, increasing the wind speed. At site 1 the depth of the soil was 0.57m and at site 10 the depth of the soil was 0.15m. This is a decrease of 0.42m.
One reason for this decrease is the greater volume of biota at the foot of Dunmore compared to the summit. The bottom of the hill transect provides better conditions for plants and animals to survive so there is an increase in biota for the soil. This increases decomposition and adds organic matter to the soil when they die. I would expect the air temperature to decrease going from the foot of the hill to the summit due to adiabatic cooling. As elevation increases the atmospheric pressure decreases as there is less air above to push down. When air pressure decreases the air expands as the molecules spread further apart. This movement of expansion uses up energy in the air therefore the temperature decreases. This is the known as adiabatic cooling and states that temperature decreases by 1 degree Celsius for every 100 meters.
My results however, did not show this trend. At site one the temperature of the air was 17 degrees c and at site 10 was 18 degrees c. The soil pH at site 1 is 5.6 and at site 10 it is 4.5. This is a decrease in pH value of 1.1. one key factor which determines the acidity of the soil is the parent rock. Dunmore is made up of basalt rock which is an acidic rock so will therefore produce acidic soils. The soils at site 10, however are more acidic due to the process of leaching. Soil is more exposed to rain at site 10 than it is at site 1 due to a lack of vegetation. This high precipitation causes more leaching of nutrients and humus which leads to a more acidic soil.
To conclude I found from my findings on the hill transect of Dunmore that the soil depth decreased due to a lack of soil forming biota, the pH of the soil decreased because of leaching, the wind speed increased due to Wind Gradient. To improve the accuracy and validity of my research methods I could have taken more readings at each site to improve the reliability of my results. To further improve the reliability of my results I could have taken samples on a continuous belt transect instead of an interrupted belt transect as this would have provided a detailed understanding of the entire environmental gradient.
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