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The possible impact of periglacial climates on the rate of chemical weathering of a coarse-grained plagioclase-muscovite-quartz schist has been determined for a small watershed near Baltimore, Maryland. The isovolumetric chemical weathering model formulated from the geochemical mass balance study of the watershed shows that the weathering front advances at a velocity of 9.1 m/m.y., if the modern environmental parameters remain the same back through time. However, recent surficial geological mapping demonstrates that periglacial climates have impacted the area. Such an impact significantly affects two key chemical weathering parameters, the concentration of CO2 in the soil and groundwater moving past the weathering front. Depending upon the assumptions used in the model, the rate of saprolitization varies from 2.2 to 5.3 m/m.y. The possible impact of periglacial processes suggested by the chemical weathering rates indicates a need to reconsider theories of landscape evolution as they apply to the northern Piedmont Province of the mid-Atlantic states. I suggest that from the Late Miocene to the present that the major rivers have become incised in their present locations; this incision has enhanced groundwater circulation and chemical weathering such that crystalline rocks beneath interfluvial areas remain mantled by saprolite; and the saprolite mantle has been partially stripped as periglacial conditions alternate with humid-temperate conditions. ?? 1993.
Additional Publication Details
Climatic impact on isovolumetric weathering of a coarse-grained schist in the northern Piedmont Province of the central Atlantic states