Contributions of Forest Opal and Associated Crystalline Phases to Fine Silt Clay Fractions of Soils

L. P. Wilding and L. R. Drees
Agronomy Department, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio 43210, U.S.A.

Abstract: The scanning electron microscope (SEM) is useful in the identification of biogenic opal. Opaline spheres, cups, and scrolled or convoluted sheets were identified in both soil and vegetative isolates. X-ray diffraction analysis indicates that both alpha quartz and cristobalite were co-associated with the amorphous opaline phase synthesized during life metabolism of deciduous tree leaves. Such crystalline phases were most abundant in the 2–5 µm fraction and many consist of anitsotropic rods with parallel extinction or equidimensional bodies with aggregate extinction. Between 2/3 and 3/4 of the total opal isolate from deciduous tree leaves was solubilized when digested for 2·5-min in boiling 0·5 N NaOH. Rate of dissolution was a function of particle-size and tree species. Biogenic opal of forest origin was about 10–15 times more soluble than grass opal, which probably reflects the higher specific surface of the former.

Clays and Clay Minerals; June 1974 v. 22; no. 3; p. 295-306; DOI: 10.1346/CCMN.1974.0220311
© 1974, The Clay Minerals Society
Clay Minerals Society (www.clays.org)