Peoria Loess-derived soils on uplands east of the Mississippi River valley were studied from Louisiana to Iowa, along a south-to-north gradient of decreasing precipitation and temperature. Major element analyses of deep loess in Mississippi and Illinois show that the composition of the parent material is similar in the northern and southern parts of the valley. We hypothesized that in the warmer, wetter parts of the transect, mineral weathering should be greater than in the cooler, drier parts of the transect. Profile average values of CaO/TiO2, MgO/ TiO2, K2O/TiO2, and Na2O/TiO2, Sr/Zr, Ba/Zr, and Rb/Zr represent proxies for depletion of loess minerals such as calcite, dolomite, hornblende, mica, and plagioclase. All ratios show increases from south to north, supporting the hypothesis of greater chemical weathering in the southern part of the valley. An unexpected result is that profile average values of Al2O3/TiO2 and Fe2O3/TiO2 (proxies for the relative abundance of clay minerals) show increases from south to north. This finding, while contrary to the evidence of greater chemical weathering in the southern part of the transect, is consistent with an earlier study which showed higher clay contents in Bt horizons of loess-derived soils in the northern part of the transect. We hypothesize that soils in the northern part of the valley received fine-grained loess from sources to the west of the Mississippi River valley either late in the last glacial period, during the Holocene or both. In contrast, soils in the southern part of the valley were unaffected by such additions.
Additional publication details
Impact of climate and parent material on chemical weathering in Loess-derived soils of the Mississippi River valley