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Clay formation and podzol development from postglacial moraines in Switzerland

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The fine silt (2-5 m) and fine clay (<0.1 m) fractions from four acid soils developed from moraines of increasing age (80, 400, 3,000 and 6,500 years old) in Switzerland, were studied by X-ray diffraction and chemical analyses. The soil parent material is homogeneous at the four sites and the soils can be considered as forming a chronosequence of soil development leading to the formation of Podzols. Mineralogical evolution of silt-sized phyllosilicates and fine clay fractions follows different pathways according to their composition and the soil horizon in which they are located. Dioctahedral and trioctahedral minerals in the soil parent material were both weathered in the Bw and Bs horizons but the trioctahedral phase more strongly and faster than the dioctahedral one. Weathering products are mica-vermiculite mixed-layers, vermiculite and finally gibbsite and Fe oxy-hydroxides. Weathering of the trioctahedral fraction was faster in the eluvial A or E horizons than in the B horizons, being almost complete after 3,000 years of soil development. Appreciable weathering of the dioctahedral fraction occurs only in the eluvial horizons leading to the formation of mica-smectite mixed-layers and smectite. Although smectite has been reported in the E horizon of Podzols in different environments, the significant finding in this work is the presence of this mineral in soils developed from the same parent material. This supports the fact that smectite is the end-product of mica alteration in strongly leached and acidified E horizons of Podzols.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 1999-06-01

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