Abstract

The purpose of this study was to investigate the clay mineral phases in a Rhodic Acrisol soil and to discuss their evolution in subtropical conditions. Prairie and forest soil profiles were sampled and clay fractions of the parent material and soil horizons analysed by X-ray diffraction (XRD) at the Federal University of Santa Maria, Rio Grande do Sul-Brazil. The XRD results show the presence of interstratified kaolinite-smectite and illite-smectite as well as illite in the parent material. These minerals were also found in the soil samples but with two new phases: hydroxy-aluminium interlayered vermiculite (HIV), which showed incomplete collapse with treatment at 550°C, and a newly formed kaolinite (d = 7.17 Å). Under a subtropical climate and a sandy lithology, HIV and kaolinite appear to be a result of a specific pedogenic clay formation, related to the natural vegetation. Originally, under the prairie area, the intensity of the weathering processes was weak (within 2:1 clay minerals), as only small quantities of kaolinite and Fe oxides, and no evidence of gibbsite, were found.

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