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Characteristics of sesquioxidic soils.

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Sesquioxidic soil clays from Oxisols in South Africa, Australia and Brazil, and two clays from Andosols in Japan and New Zealand, were investigated by XRD, OTA, IR, EM and quantitative mineralogical analysis. The volcanic-ash soil clays are dominated by allophane; clays from Natal are dominated by kaolin (30 - 45%) and free iron oxides (20 - 25%), with smaller amounts of gibbsite (0 - 12%) and pedogenic chlorite (less than 20%); Oxisol clays from Australia and Brazil contain free iron oxides (40 - 50%), gibbsite and kaolin (both about 25%). Acid ammonium oxalate (pH 3) was found to be superior to currently popular alkaline reagents for extracting amorphous aluminosilicates and alumina from these clays. Boiling 0,5- NaOH dissolved large amounts of finely-divided kaolinite and halloysite, while hot 5% Na[2]CO[3] reaction was too slow (partial dissolution of synthetic amorphous aluminosilicates with one extraction) and insufficiently selective (gibbsite and kaolin of poor crystallinity dissolve to a variable extent). On the other hand, synthetic gels (molar Si0[2]/A1[2]O[3] ranging from 0,91 to 2,55) dissolved completely after 2h shaking in the dark with 0,2tM acid ammonium oxalate (0,2 ml/mg). Specificity of oxalate for natural allophane was indicated by removal of similar quantities of silica and alumina using different clay: solution ratios. Oxalate extraction data indicated that allophane is absent in Oxisol clays, which are characterized by small quantities of amorphous, A1-rich sesquioxide (1,5 to 7%), some of which may originate in interlayers of 2: l phyllosilicate structures. Allophane was determined quantitatively in volcanic-ash soil clays by allocating hydroxyl water content to oxalate-soluble silica plus alumina on the basis of an ignition weight loss/chemical composition function for synthetic amorphous aluminosilicates. Both Si02/A1[2]O[3] ratios and quantities of allophane were found to be lower than those obtained using boiling 0,5N NaOH, in agreement with the interpretation that the latter treatment attacks crystalline aluminosilicates. Parameters of chemical reactivity and distribution of electric charges following various chemical pretreatments of allophane were found to correspond closely to those predicted on the basis of synthetic gel behaviour. Results for Oxisol clays suggested that the role of amorphous (oxalate-soluble) alumina in governing physicochemical properties is generally subdorninant to that of the poorly-crystalline, A1-substituted iron oxide component which is removed by deferration with citrate-dithionite-bicarbonate reagent. Hysteretic pH-dependent net negative exchange charge was shown to arise from hysteresis of positive exchange charge, while CEC is fully reversible by titration with strong acid. A mechanism is postulated to account for this observation. Levels of silica in the soil solution of Natal Oxisols are higher than those of more strongly-weathered soils from Australia and Brazil, and may be sufficiently high to exert a favourable effect on plant-available P following phosphate fertilization. Although soluble silica levels are also relatively high in volcanic-ash soils, a similar effect is not likely to manifest itself significantly owing to the very high P adsorption capacity of allophane. A study of soil solution equilibria indicated that in terms of silica and aluminium hydroxide potentials, kaolinite is the most stable mineral in all the soils. Allophane persists as a partial metastable equilibrium state in volcanicash soils while gibbsite formation in Oxisols is contingent upon periodic, nonequilibrium leaching conditions. The role of clay mineral suite in governing levels of exchangeable aluminium in acid soils is examined. A revised model system for allophane is proposed in which tetrahedral substitution of Al for Si may reach a maximum of 1 : 1 in an aluminosilicate phase. Additional alumina takes the form of discreet amorphous or crystalline material. The composition of allophane corresponding to maximum A1 for Si substitution will depend upon the availability of basic cations for charge balancing during neogenesis of the amorphous aluminosilicate.


Thesis (Ph.D.)-University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg, 1974.


Soil chemistry., Soil structure., Soil formation., Soil mineralogy., Theses--Soil science.