Abstract

Calcite, gypsum, aragonite, and halite have been found in coastal Enderby Land, Antarctica. The salt minerals and their distribution in antarctic soils and surficial materials have diverse possible modes of genesis. Efflorescences of very soluble salts are formed where moisture from melting snow, itself containing salts of marine origin, enters the soil and is later drawn back to the surface as a result of intense evaporation. The returning solution, in addition to its original mineralization, carries ions derived from soil formational processes. Similar genesis accounts for crust deposits of salt minerals on the undersides of boulders overlying soil materials. Other crusts, especially those on rock outcrops, are evidences of chemical weathering of rock interiors, migration of solutions to surfaces in response to thermal gradients, and subsequent deposition by evaporation. Calcitan formation within the soil profile represents precipitation from solution—contemporaneous in coastal Enderby Land, but possibly relict in other parts of the Antarctic continent.

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