Abstract: Experimental solubility data for gibbsite and kaolinite are reviewed and applied to the problem of gibbsite stability within the natural environment. It is concluded that free alumina compounds formed (only) in lateritic soils will tend to silicify spontaneously in all sedimentary environments. This metasomatic reaction should be accompanied by massive volume expansion: unusual textures are to be anticipated.
Petrographic and field descriptions of a number of ancient kaolinitic sediments (some with, some without free alumina) are reviewed. It is concluded that silicification of hydrated aluminum oxides was an important mechanism of kaolinite formation in ancient sediments and that free alumina compounds persist only as a result of the unusual volume expansion associated with kaolinite formation.