GSA Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado, USA - 2016

Paper No. 199-9
Presentation Time: 10:00 AM


GURA, Colleen M.1, KEMPTON, Pamela2, KIRK, Matthew F.3 and DATTA, Saugata2, (1)Geology, Kansas State University, 108 Thompson Hall, Manhattan, KS 66506, (2)Department of Geology, Kansas State University, 104 Thompson Hall, Manhattan, KS 66506, (3)Department of Geology, Kansas State University, 108 Thompson Hall, Manhattan, KS 66506,

The Critical Zone is the realm where rocks meet life. This study examines the physicochemical interactions that occur when interbedded limestone-shale systems and kimberlitc eruptive materials weather to form soils. Fast weathering with extensive soil loss has been a major environmental concern in the Flint Hills. Knowledge of soil formation processes, rates of formation and loss and understanding how these processes differ in different systems are critical for managing soil as a resource. The kimberlites of Riley County, KS, are CO2-rich igneous rocks that are high in Mg and Fe; they are compositionally distinct from the Paleozoic limestones and shales found throughout the rest of the region. Bulk composition and mineralogy of the soils overlying these different bedrock types have been analyzed using X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF), X-Ray diffraction, bulk elemental extraction, and particle size analyses. Results show that the kimberlitic soils have higher concentrations of Fe, Mg, Ca, K and some trace elements (e.g. Ti, Ni, Cu). The weathering products differ mineralogically as well, e.g. lizardite is abundant in kimberlitic soils and absent from the limestone terrane. As a result, kimberlite-sourced soils have significantly different physical properties than the thin limestone-sourced soils surrounding them. Particle size analysis shows that the limestone-shale soils have a higher proportion of silt-sized particles whereas the kimberlitic soils have more clay (10.55% vs. 8.06%) and significantly more sand (36.12% vs. 14.83%). Sequential extractions, clay separations and polytype identification are also included on samples to understand the association and mobility of these major and trace elements in the respective soils. Interestingly some of the similarities between the kimberlite and limestone-shale soils suggests that loess/wind-blown sediment is making a significant contribution to the soil profile. Kimberlite-sourced and limestone-shale-sourced soils produce different weathering products and could potentially have agricultural significance in terms of ionic and nutrient mobility.