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Paleosols of the Southern Cape Coast, South Africa: Implications for Laterite Definition, Genesis, and Age

David M. Helgren and Karl W. Butzer
Geographical Review
Vol. 67, No. 4 (Oct., 1977), pp. 430-445
DOI: 10.2307/213626
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/213626
Page Count: 16
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Paleosols of the Southern Cape Coast, South Africa: Implications for Laterite Definition, Genesis, and Age
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Abstract

A sequence of Tertiary to Pleistocene paleosols is described from the Southern Cape Coast of South Africa. These include examples that conform with the morphological definition of laterites (plinthite over mottled and possibly pallid horizons) as well as nonlateritic profiles indicative of either intensive or superficial weathering. This pedostratigraphic record argues for repeated major environmental shifts and shows that soil-forming trends have differed not only in degree but in kind. The "Soil Taxonomy" of the Soil Conservation Service, which is morphological rather than genetic, provides a convenient mode of classification for the range of paleosols present, for it deemphasizes the relationship between contemporary environment and soil type. A morphological classification of laterite is additionally useful for applied purposes, particularly because recent or inherited laterites are regionally prominent in some environments.

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