Overview SOIL 1
Apparently frost -heaving has raised very weak physical (WP) crust-mounds.
Closeup of a crust mound: The surface has been softened and the top centimeter has filled in with fine sediments. This top layer actually has more structure than the frost-heaved material below it, which readily crumbles into its constituent soil particles. Note the plant root, at top center of the photo, growing in the fine sediment layer.
Where litter is present, but too discontinuous to form duff, the action of frost heaving rapidly incorporates pine and juniper litter into the mineral horizon.
Overview SOIL 2
Some areas have much more biological crust than others. In these photos, the blue grama grass Bouteloua gracilis (BOGR) is more abundant with denser cryptobiotic crust. The darkened biological soil crust (BSC) consists of free-living blue-green algae such as Nostoc.
Compact SP (strong physical) crust with roots and moisture evident underneath. These cracked peds come up in 5-8 inch radius plates. Note how different this crust is from the previous “frost-heaved” crust. This crust has significant structure to it and doesn’t immediately crumble into constituent particles.