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The Concept of Laterite

T. R. Paton and M. A. J. Williams
Annals of the Association of American Geographers
Vol. 62, No. 1 (Mar., 1972), pp. 42-56
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2562162
Page Count: 15
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The Concept of Laterite
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Abstract

Although originally defined as a mottled clay which hardened on exposure to air, the term laterite has been applied to such a diverse array of geomorphic features that it no longer has value as a precise descriptive term. The persistence of error in modern studies of laterite stems from early confusion over what laterite is and how it forms. Sedentary laterite is genetically distinct from detrital laterite. Pedogenetic ironstone is younger than the weathered rock beneath it. A tropical climate is not essential for laterite to form. The influence upon weathering of lithology and relief may offset that of climate, so that relict laterites are poor paleoclimatic indicators. The value of laterite as a stratigraphic marker, and its use in denudation chronology, is also suspect.

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