The environmental conditions in Maritime Antarctica are more favorable to soil development than in continental areas, which is reflected in the content and type of clay minerals present. In this context, soil clay minerals of Fildes Peninsula, South Shetland Islands were studied with the aim of relating them to periglacial and paraglacial processes as possible indicators of initial pedogenic processes. In this work, textural, mineralogical and crystallochemical characterization of clay minerals as well as chemical and physical soil analyses were carried out. The soil samples represented various surface cover types present on Fildes Peninsula. All samples were composed mainly of clay minerals, plagioclase, quartz and minor zeolites and pyroxene. The clay mineral content was very variable and reached up to 63% w/w. The clay minerals present are mainly smectite, vermiculite, chlorite and minor kaolinite, mica, corrensite and interstratified illite–smectite, with smectite and vermiculite dominating in almost all of the samples. The primary minerals display chemical alteration, and smectite formed by alteration of plagioclase. The clay mineral types were related to the parent material, which was affected by low-grade metamorphism and hydrothermal alteration that transformed biotite and chlorite into vermiculite via interstratified chlorite–vermiculite. Furthermore, this process and/or ongoing surface weathering transformed vermiculite into smectite. The genetic relationship observed between vermiculite and smectite suggests progressive alteration and transformation into a phase with intermediate composition between vermiculite and smectite. Therefore, vermiculite could be at least in part the smectite precursor. Samples closer to the current Collins Glacier front are composed mainly of vermiculite, with the greatest chemical variation occurring where the soils were developed from a mixture of initially glacially transported volcanic rocks through periglacial and fluvial processes. The clay minerals from the centre and south of Fildes Peninsula are mixtures of montmorillonite and vermiculite, as well as of chlorite and corrensite in various proportions. The clay minerals in soils developed on the west coast are a mixture of Fe-rich montmorillonite and vermiculite.

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