The following is a map unit description from the "Soil Survey of Norfolk and Suffolk Counties, Massachusetts (Peragallo, 1989)"

Uf-Udorthents, refuse substratum. This map unit consists of areas that have been used for refuse disposal. Most of these areas have been constructed of alternating layers, several inches to several feet thick, of refuse and soil material. The areas are mainly in the low-lying parts of the landscape. The largest areas of this map unit are on the Boston and Quincy landfills. This map unit ranges from 5 to 110 acres in size. Slopes are dominantly 2 to 8 percent but increase to 15 to 35 percent on side slopes at the edges of the map unit.

The areas of these soils constructed prior to 1971 consist almost entirely of refuse many feet deep and a cover of 1 2 inches or more of loamy soil material planted to grasses. The refuse consists of partly decomposed or burned paper, plastic, metal, glass, rubble, cinders, and organic debris. The areas constructed after 1971 consist of alternating layers of loamy and sandy soil material, unburned refuse, sewage sludge, and incinerated refuse. Where these areas have been abandoned, a final cover of 24 to 48 inches of loamy soil material has been placed on the surface, sometimes mixed with sewage sludge, graded to 2 percent slopes, and planted to grasses. In areas in active use, about 6 inches of sandy or loamy soil material daily is placed over the refuse and compacted. In a few places refuse protrudes through the surface.

Included with this map unit are areas of Udorthents, loamy, where no refuse is in the underlying material. Also included are areas of Udorthents, sandy, in adjacent pits used as a source of daily cover material. Also included are areas of Udorthents, wet substratum, where swamps, marshes, and flood plains have been filled. The included areas make up about 20 percent of the map unit.

Permeability of Udorthents, refuse substratum, is moderate to very slow in the upper 24 to 48 inches and rapid to very slow in underlying material. Available water capacity is low. In nearly level areas water tends to pond on the surface of the compacted cover material. The odor of sulfide gas can be detected when excavations are made in this map unit. Occasionally, an orange-colored leachate seeps out of the base of slopes.

Areas of these soils that are not in use for refuse disposal are idle or are used as playing fields. Some areas have been reclaimed and are used as building sites.

These soils are generally not suitable as sites for buildings and septic tank absorption fields because they subside. In addition, dangerous, emitted gases can accumulate inside buildings on these areas.

These soils are poorly suited to use as vegetable gardens because crops can absorb toxic substances from refuse and sewage sludge. They are fairly suited to recreation uses, such as ballfields. Areas of these soils differ greatly from area to area; consequently, onsite investigation is needed to assess the suitability of the soils for specific land uses.

These soils have not been assigned to a capability subclass.

Back to the Norfolk/Suffolk Home Page

Back to