Abstract

The superimposed weathering layers in equatorial rain forest lateritic mantles from Gabon, Africa, function as interactive compartments forming a dynamic semipermeable geomembrane filter. Selectivity of the filter is controlled by a progressive downward disappearance of connected macropore pathways created by bioturbation and dissolution. The natural balance of root activity, translocation, dissolution, deformation, and pore evolution leads to the development of porous and permeable, mature, open geochemical weathering systems at the expense of the lithosphere. These conclusions can be useful in modeling the fate of lateritic soils, which cover one-third of the emerged area of the world and which are economically important both as metal deposits and agricultural soils.

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