Abstract

The study of hard rock conversion into fine earths and clayey materials in the pedosphere is important in understanding the relative proportions of recent soil features to features that were inherited from ancient epochs. Cold environments are widely thought to be areas of physical weathering, but the coexistence of physical and chemical processes have also been shown. To further examine mafic rock (dolerite) weathering in soil environments and the conversion into clayey materials, Entic Podzols formed in the cold continental climate were studied. The key study was located in the central part of the flood basalt complex, or traps (traprocks), of the Central Siberian Plateau (Russia). The qualitative mineralogy was studied using X-ray diffraction and the quantitative mineral composition was determined using X-ray diffraction and subsequent Rietveld analysis. The micromorphological characteristics of the soils were studied in thin sections. Dolerite fragments and fine earths were sampled from soil profiles underlain by dolerite. XRD analyses indicated that pyroxene and especially plagioclase contents in the dolerite fragments and fine earths decreased from the bottom to the top soil horizons mostly in the mature soil profiles that were affected by chemical weathering of dolerite. The dioctahedral and trioctahedral smectites in the soils were inherited from a dolerite previously subjected to chemical weathering. The smectite was conserved in the inherited aggregates and protected against dissolution even in acidic soil horizons. Recent pedogenesis processes fractured individual fragments, converted it into soil micromass, and slightly decreased the total smectite content of the <1 μm soil fraction. However, in soil samples collected from the bottom to the top horizons of a mature soil profile, trioctahedral smectite contents decreased as dioctahedral smectite contents increased. This suggests that dioctahedral smectites formed by pedogenic alteration of inherited trioctahedral smectites.

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