Anthrosols and Human Carrying Capacity in Amazonia

Tom Miles

Anthrosols and Human Carrying Capacity in Amazonia
Nigel J. H. Smith
Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Vol. 70, No. 4 (Dec., 1980), pp. 553-566


The occurrence of numerous areas of black soil associated with potsherds in Amazonia has stirred controversy on the origins of the soil type and its significance in terms of precontact aboriginal population densities in the region. The theories on the origin of black earth are reviewed and it is argued that it is anthropogenic. An analysis of the physical and chemical properties of the soil type, based on widespread sampling, supports the anthropogenic argument. The abundance and depth of black earth sites indicates that Indian populations were dense and in many cases sedentary before the arrival of Europeans, even in interfluve areas.