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Iron bands, fragipans and duripans in the northeastern plateaus of Brazil: Properties and genesis



Iron bands, fragipans and duripans in the northeastern plateaus of Brazil: Properties and genesis



Canadian Journal of Soil Science 78(3): 519-530



Iron bands, fragipans and duripans are common in yellow low-activity clay soils developed from the Barreiras Group in coastal plateaus of northeastern Brazil. Such indurated horizons are found in depressions of the plateaus where sugar cane growth is greatly reduced. Little research has being done on the nature of their bonding agents and their genesis. Research carried out in and zones has frequently attributed duripan consistency to amorphous silica; however, duripans in northeast Brazil occur under higher rainfall (1500-2000 mm). The objective of this work was to study the nature and distribution of soil features in a plateau to better understand the processes associated with soil hardening. Two transects, across a small and a large depression, were investigated using field soil characterisation, micromorphological techniques, and mineralogical and geochemical analyses. The formation of the indurated horizons studied is due to two sequential processes: development of aquic conditions and incipient podzolization. Such processes have affected the upper part of a thin (<0.6 m in small depressions) or thick (>0.6 m in large depressions) compact clay horizon, showing horizontal plans likely inherited from the sediment. Onset of aquatic conditions formed the first fragipans overlying iron bands. Later, aquic conditions are combined with incipient podzolization to produce bleached loose horizons overlying duripans and iron bands. As the bonding agents in the duripans are organo-metallic complexes, these duripans appear to be very different from those described in arid environments.

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Accession: 010885064

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DOI: 10.4141/S98-030



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