Journal of South American Earth Sciences ( IF 1.704 ) Pub Date : 2019-12-30 , DOI: 10.1016/j.jsames.2019.102494 Paula Suélen Corrêa de Medeiros; Paulo César do Nascimento; Alberto Vasconcellos Inda; Luís Fernando da Silva
Southern Brazil abounds with granitic hills capped by intricately distributed soils most of which have been classified as Entisols or Inceptisols in medium- and small-scale soil surveys. However, field observations have revealed substantial texture gradients that are consistent with better-developed soils; also, the physical, chemical and mineralogical properties of the soils suggest that they are only slightly to moderately weathered. In this work, we examined the influence of formation-related factors and processes in soils from two granite toposequences. The eight soil profiles studied for this purpose were shallow, their C horizons occurring at depths of less than 100 cm. The low degree of flocculation and the fine/total clay ratio of the soils suggest that lessivage, which contributed to the development of the texture gradient in six of the profiles, was the main pedogenic process responsible for the formation of these soils. The soils at topographically high points were dystrophic or allitic, whereas those at low points were eutrophic. Based on their Ki values, the soils were weathered to a medium extent, which is in conflict with their low clay activity and cation exchange capacity. On the other hand, the Fed/Fes ratios of the soils were consistent with strong weathering, which in turn was consistent with their pH and exchangeable Al values. The iron oxides contents increased with increasing depth in the profiles as a result of lessivage. Feo/Fed ratios were suggestive of a prevalence of crystalline iron oxides. Increased substitution of Al in Fe oxides in the topographically higher soils further confirmed their increased weathering. Based on the foregoing, the soils were classified as Ultisols/Alfisols, Entisols and Inceptisols, the last series being less frequent than suggested by existing soil surveys. The transitional nature of these soil classes reflected in the presence of Ultisols/Alfisols with a thin B horizon, and also of argilluvic Inceptisols.