Abstract

The ca. 2.2 Ga Hekpoort paleosol of the Transvaal Supergroup in southern Africa has been considered a type example and the youngest iron-depleted paleosol formed under a reducing atmosphere in the early Precambrian. However, the mineralogical and geochemical data on recently acquired deep drill core intersections indicate that the Hekpoort paleosol represents part of an ancient lateritic weathering profile with an iron-depleted pallid lower zone and an iron-enriched lateritic upper zone. Previous studies of the paleosol took place in areas where only the lower pallid zone was preserved from erosion prior to deposition of cover beds. The laterite profile is comparable to that of modern tropical laterites formed under an oxic atmosphere in the presence of abundant terrestrial biomass. Revised stratigraphic correlation indicates that the Hekpoort laterite profile is a correlative to highly ferruginous laterite profiles of Wolhaarkop in Griqualand West. This information indicates that the oxygen-evolution curve, based on loss or retention of iron in paleosols, should be reexamined.

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