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Changes in the Content and Composition of Pedogenic Iron Oxyhydroxides in a Chronosequence of Soils in Southern California

  • Leslie D. McFadden (a1) and David M. Hendricks (a2)

Studies of the pedogenic iron oxyhydroxides in suites of latest Holocene to middle Pleistocene soils formed on fluvial deposits of the transverse ranges, southern California, indicate that the content and composition of iron oxyhydroxide change in a systematic manner. Analysis of total secondary free iron oxides (dithionite extractable, Fe2O3d) and ferrihydrite (oxalate extractable, Fe2O3o) shows that (1) a single-logarithmic model (Y = a + b log X) or double logarithmic model (log Y = a + b log X), where Y is the total mass of pedogenic Fe oxides (g/cm2-soil column) and X is soil age, describes the rate of increase in Fe2O3d with time; (2) the Fe2O3d content correlates linearly with soil reddening and clay content; (3) the Fe2O3oFe2O3d ratio, which indicates the degree of Fe oxide crystallinity, is moderately high to very high (0.22–0.58) in middle Holocene to latest Pleistocene soils and progressively decreases to less than 0.10 in older soils; (4) the value of the Fe2O3oFe2O3d ratio also appears to be infuenced by climate; and (5) temporal changes in Fe oxide content and mineralogy are accompanied by related, systematic changes in clay mineralogy and organic matter content. These relationships are attributed to a soil environment that must initially favor ferrihydrite precipitation and/or organic matter-Fe complexation. Subsequent transformation to hematite causes increasingly intense reddening and a concomitant decrease in the Fe2O3oFe2O3d ratio. The results demonstrate that iron oxide analysis is useful for numerical age studies of noncalcic soils and shows potential as an indicator of paleoclimates.

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Quaternary Research
  • ISSN: 0033-5894
  • EISSN: 1096-0287
  • URL: /core/journals/quaternary-research
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