Abstract

Inceptisols are the major forest soils in northern Taiwan. Some chemical, physical and morphological properties have been documented for these soils, yet there is little information on the mineralogy and the charge characteristics of their constituent 2:1 clay minerals. In this study we conducted a detailed characterization of the clay mineralogy of two Inceptisols. Two pedons were sampled at diagnostic horizons and the clay mineralogy was examined by X-ray diffraction. The magnitude of the layer charge of the 2:1 phyllosilicates was estimated using the alkylammonium exchange method (nC = 12). The clay mineralogy of both soils was dominated by vermiculite and mica with small amounts of kaolinite. The surface horizon contained more mica and kaolinite than the lower horizons. The mean layer charge of vermiculite ranged between 0.60 and 0.86 cmolc/(O10(OH)2). The distribution of clay layer charge decreased with increasing soil depth in two pedons. Differences in layer charge between samples are due to differences in weathering processes. The difference in the extent of clay mineral weathering in the A and Bsm horizons could be partly because the mineral surfaces in the Bsm horizon were coated with organo-Fe complexes which protected them from weathering.

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