Chemical weathering gradients are defined by the changes in the measured elemental concentrations in solids and pore waters with depth in soils and regoliths. An increase in the mineral weathering rate increases the change in these concentrations with depth while increases in the weathering velocity decrease the change. The solid-state weathering velocity is the rate at which the weathering front propagates through the regolith and the solute weathering velocity is equivalent to the rate of pore water infiltration. These relationships provide a unifying approach to calculating both solid and solute weathering rates from the respective ratios of the weathering velocities and gradients. Contemporary weathering rates based on solute residence times can be directly compared to long-term past weathering based on changes in regolith composition. Both rates incorporate identical parameters describing mineral abundance, stoichiometry, and surface area. Weathering gradients were used to calculate biotite weathering rates in saprolitic regoliths in the Piedmont of Northern Georgia, USA and in Luquillo Mountains of Puerto Rico. Solid-state weathering gradients for Mg and K at Panola produced reaction rates of 3 to 6 x 10-17 mol m-2 s-1 for biotite. Faster weathering rates of 1.8 to 3.6 ?? 10-16 mol m-2 s-1 are calculated based on Mg and K pore water gradients in the Rio Icacos regolith. The relative rates are in agreement with a warmer and wetter tropical climate in Puerto Rico. Both natural rates are three to six orders of magnitude slower than reported experimental rates of biotite weathering. ?? 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.