Understanding the transformation of rock to soil is central to landscape evolution and ecosystem function. The objective of this study was to examine controls on secondary mineral formation in a forested catchment in the Catalina-Jemez CZO. We hypothesized landscape position controls the type of secondary minerals formed in that well-drained hillslopes favor Si-poor secondary phases such as kaolinite, whereas poorly drained portions of the landscape that collect solutes from surrounding areas favor formation of Si-rich secondary phases such as smectite. The study focused on a catchment in Valles Caldera in northern New Mexico where soils are derived from a mix of rhyolitic volcanic material, vegetation includes a mixed conifer forest, and climate is characterized by a mean annual precipitation of ~800 mm yr-1 and mean annual temperature of 4.5°C. Soils were collected at the soil-saprolite boundary from three landscape positions, classified as well drained hillslope, poorly drained convergent area, and poorly drained hill slope. Clay fractions were isolated and analyzed using a combination of quantitative and qualitative x-ray diffraction (XRD) analyses and thermal analysis. Quantitative XRD of random powder mounts indicated the presence of both primary phases such as quartz, and alkali and plagioclase feldspars, and secondary phases that include illite, Fe-oxyhydroxides including both goethite and hematite, kaolinite, and smectite. The clay fractions were dominated by smectite ranging from 36-42%, illite ranging from 21-35%, and kaolinite ranging from 1-8%. Qualitative XRD of oriented mounts confirmed the presence of smectite in all samples, with varying degrees of interlayering and interstratification. In contrast to our hypothesis, results indicated that secondary mineral assemblage was not strongly controlled by landscape position, but rather varied with underlying variation in lithology. The catchment is underlain by a combination of porphorytic rhyolite and hydrothermally altered rhyolitic tuff, with an intrusion of Paleozoic sandstone. Smectite content was generally greater in areas underlain by the tuff and likely represent a combination of both diagenic smectite formed by hydrothermal alteration of volcanic glass and authigenic smectites formed in the soils via chemical weathering.
Caylor E., Rasmussen C., Dhakal P. (2015): Lithologic Control on Secondary Clay Mineral Formation in the Valles Caldera, New Mexico. Abstract EP31B-1000 presented at 2015 Fall Meeting, AGU, San Francisco, CA, 14-18 Dec..
This Paper/Book acknowledges NSF CZO grant support.