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ABSTRACT

We conducted a detailed rock magnetic and mineralogical study of bole beds from the Deccan magmatic province, India. Magnetic susceptibility of 15 bole beds showed two contrasting patterns, with susceptibility values either increasing or decreasing up the profile. We then focused on two representatives red boles located in the Western Ghats, the RBB and RBAN profiles, to unravel the nature and origin of these contrasting magnetic susceptibility patterns. The presence of smectite argues against significant secondary thermal alterations. Major-elemental compositions obtained by X-ray fluorescence spectrometry of RBB and RBAN red boles are comparable to the parent basalt and show significant and typical depletion of mobile elements such as sodium and calcium compared to the parent basalt. The Ti/Al ratio of both the red boles and their overlying clay layers is close to the typical value of Deccan basalt (0.2), suggesting that the material of the red boles has been derived from weathering of the parent basalt. The chemical index of alteration varies from 40–50 in the parent basalt to 80–90 at the top of the bole beds, consistent with moderate to intense weathering of the bole beds. However, similar to other Deccan bole beds, indices of lateritization below 50 suggest that the state of lateritization has not been reached. Although the RBB and RBAN profiles share similar mineralogical signatures, their magnetic mineral assemblages are distinctly different. In the RBB profile, magnetic susceptibility decreases up-profile as a result of oxidation/dissolution of primary titanomagnetite inherited from the parent basalt, with subsequent formation of pedogenic hematite and superparamagnetic particles. In contrast, magnetic susceptibility in the RBAN profile, which contains magnetite, some hematite, and goethite, increases up-profile. The increase in the magnetic signal is mainly due to the increasing amounts of phyllosilicate and goethite, while the content of magnetite and hematite remains constant along the profile. We attribute the variation in the magnetic mineral assemblage to contrasting humid and dry environments during weathering, leading to the preferential formation of goethite or hematite, respectively. The combined mineralogical and rock magnetic data suggest the existence of a single weathering profile involving soil formation in the two studied red boles, with few or no contributions from an external source.

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