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Saprolite is a major product of rock weathering on the Appalachian Piedmont from New Jersey to Alabama. On the Piedmont, it is the primary substrate from which residual soils are developed. Properties of saprolite and residual soils are highly related to their parent rocks. Studies of cores and outcrops illustrate that rock structure and mineralogy control upland regolith zonation. Saprolite develops by in situ chemical alteration of a wide variety of mafic to highly silicic rocks. Thickness of upland saprolite varies from a few meters on mafic rocks to tens of meters on silicic rocks. Saprolite thickness decreases with increasing slope and saprolite is generally thin or absent in valley bottoms. Massive residual subsoils and soils develop by physical and chemical processes that alter the upper few meters of saprolite. The fabric, texture and mineralogy of residual soils are distinctly different from underlying saprolite. The boundary between soil and saprolite is often gradual, and often a zone of low permeability. Geologic maps are useful guides to Piedmont regolith thickness and zonation. In regional design studies, geologic maps and regolith characteristics can be useful in environmental decision-making.
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Appalachian piedmont regolith: Relations of saprolite and residual soils to rock-type