Textural, geochemical, and mineralogic study of soils and weathering profiles has led to the practice of applying varioys weathering parameters as relative age indicators. In our studies examined the entire thickness of weathered sediment (i.e., the weathering profile) for evidence of weathering-induced changes in both sand- and clay-sized mineralogy, and used two techniques for relative age determinations. These techniques were developed as tools to support geologic mapping. One of our techniques for determining relative ages is based on the depth of weathering as recorded by progressive loss of denrital sand-sized minerals upward in the weathering profile. This is our preferred tool, especially in areas where weathering profiles have been truncated. We have found a gradual trend of increasing loss of labile sand-sized minerals (e.g., hornblendes, feldspars) and increasing depth of weathering with increasing age of the deposit. Of significance to many research programs, this technique does not require expensive instruments such as an X-ray diffractometer. Our other technique depends on accumulation of stable, secondary clay-sized minerals in the upper part of the weathering profile. In our study area on the Atlantic Coastal Plain of the United States, the stable assemblage consists of vermiculite, kaolinite, gibbsite, and iron oxides and hydroxides. This technique can be effective for relative age determinations where profiles have not been truncated, and can provide useful information on depositional and erosional history. However, in areas of widespread erosion and profile truncation, such as the Carolinas, the utility of this technique for relative age determinations is limited. There, soils were partially or completely removed in many localities in relatively recent times. ?? 1991.
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The use of mineralogic techniques as relative age indicators for weathering profiles on the Atlantic Coastal Plain, USA