Soil physical properties highly influence soil hydraulic properties, which define the soil hydraulic behavior. Thus, changes within these properties affect water flow paths and the soil water and matter balance. Most often these soil physical properties are assumed to be constant in time, and little is known about their natural evolution. Therefore, we studied the evolution of physical and hydraulic soil properties along two soil chronosequences in proglacial forefields in the Central Alps, Switzerland: one soil chronosequence developed on silicate and the other on calcareous parent material. Each soil chronosequence consisted of four moraines with the ages of 30, 160, 3000, and 10 000 years at the silicate forefield and 110, 160, 4900, and 13 500 years at the calcareous forefield. We investigated bulk density, porosity, loss on ignition, and hydraulic properties in the form of retention curves and hydraulic conductivity curves as well as the content of clay, silt, sand, and gravel. Samples were taken at three depths (10, 30, 50 cm) at six sampling sites at each moraine. Soil physical and hydraulic properties changed considerably over the chronosequence. Particle size distribution showed a pronounced reduction in sand content and an increase in silt and clay content over time at both sites. Bulk density decreased, and porosity increased during the first 10 millennia of soil development. The trend was equally present at both parent materials, but the reduction in sand and increase in silt content were more pronounced at the calcareous site. The organic matter content increased, which was especially pronounced in the topsoil at the silicate site. With the change in physical soil properties and organic matter content, the hydraulic soil properties changed from fast-draining coarse-textured soils to slow-draining soils with high water-holding capacity, which was also more pronounced in the topsoil at the silicate site. The data set presented in this paper is available at the online repository of the German Research Center for Geosciences (GFZ; Hartmann et al., 2020b). The data set can be accessed via the DOI https://doi.org/10.5880/GFZ.4.4.2020.004.
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