Frequency Distribution of Clay Minerals in Major Great Soil Groups as Related to the Factors of Soil Formation

M. L. Jackson
Department of Soils, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin

Abstract: The frequency distribution or relative abundance of minerals in soils varies with the five principal classes of factors that govern soil formation. The characteristics of the minerals of the parent material, the time factor, climatic factors, relief factors and biotic factors each can be shown to have important independent effects on clay mineralogy of soils under proper circumstances. The soil parent material exerts a control over the frequency distribution of minerals in soils by introduction of the clay minerals into the soil directly, by controlling the course of chemical weathering in the soil through the relative susceptibility of its minerals to weathering, by furnishing abundant divalent metallic cations, by impediment of drainage, or by acceleration of leaching when highly permeable. The time factor is conspicuous as long times give an advanced degree of weathering even in temperate climates. Climate is important, since highly weathered materials inevitably occur as a result of intense leaching in warm tropical and equatorial climates. Relief is important in concentrating leaching water and metallic cations, in affecting oxidation or reduction. The biotic factor affects minerals conspicuously where an A0 horizon develops and resulting cheluviation moves R2O3 out of the A2 horizon.

Inherited minerals such as illite, quartz, feldspars, ferro-magnesian minerals, carbonates and gypsum are most abundant in clays of little-weathered parent materials and soils of the zonal Desert, Brown, Chestnut and Tundra soils as well as intrazonal Mountain groups and azonal Regosols and Lithosols. Secondary layer silicate minerals such as vermiculite, secondary chlorite, montmorillonite, kaolinite and halloysite are most abundant in clays of moderately weathered parent materials and soils of the zonal Chernozem, Prairie, Gray-Brown Podzolic, Podzol, Red-Yellow Podzolic, and Low Humic Latosol groups as well as intrazonal Planosol, Rendzina, Dark Magnesium soil, and Wiesenboden groups. Secondary sesquioxide minerals such as hematite, goethite, allophane, gibbsite and anatase and residual resistant primary minerals such as ilmenite and magnetite predominate in the more highly weathered parent materials and soils of the zonal Ferruginous Humic Latosols, Hydrol Humic Latosols, Latosolic Brown, and Ando soils and Laterites, as well as the intrazonal Tropical Savannah and Ground Water Podzol ortstein soils.

Clays and Clay Minerals; 1957 v. 6; no. 1; p. 133-143; DOI: 10.1346/CCMN.1957.0060111
© 1957, The Clay Minerals Society
Clay Minerals Society (www.clays.org)