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Preprints Archive: Abstract of IC2010094 (2010)

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Geochemistry of calcretes (calico palaeosols and hardpan), Coimbatore, Southern India: Formation and paleoenvironment

by Hema Achyuthan, Navin Shankar, Martina Braida and S. Masood Ahmed

Document info: Pages 51, Figures 8.

This paper deals with the late Quaternary calcic nodules formed within vertisols in the foot-hill regions, and hardpan calcretes (greater than 200 ka) formed over the Precambrian substrate that occur as duricrust horizons in the plains around Coimbatore region, Tamil Nadu, India. The bulk chemistry of calcic nodules and the hardpan calcretes show very little variability in CaO, SiO_2, Al_2O_3 and Fe_2O_3 content. The trend of trace metal content in calcic nodules and in the hardpan calcrete is Mn>Zn>Ni>Cr>Pb>Co>Cu and Zn>Mn>Ni>Co>Pb>Cu>Cr respectively. PAAS- normalised REE data of the calcretes (calcic nodules and the hardpan) demonstrate a positive Eu anomaly. This could be attributed to feldspar, apatite mineral alteration and soil digenetic processes, differential weathering leaving behind plagioclase phenocrysts and apatite grains which are enriched in Eu. The stable isotope values of the calcic nodules do not exhibit a wide range ($\delta^{18}$O -3.39 to -5.84$\permil$ and $\delta^{13}$C -3.01 to -6.64$\permil$), compared to the hardpan calcretes ($\delta^{18}$O -2.91 to -12.98$\permil$) and $\delta^{13}$C (-0.05 to -7.4$\permil$). The palaeoenvironment during the formation of the calcretes nodules was dominated by the C4 plants with sparse vegetation cover and that the parent material/bedrock supported a thin veneer of soil column as present day. Calcic nodule accumulations in the soils has resulted from differential weathering and chemical histories within the soil profiles while the hardpan calcretes formed by complex pedogenic and chemical - groundwater processes in arid - semi arid conditions over a long geological period. During the late MIS3 to the LGM period the south west monsoon was weak with mean annual rainfall (MAR) between 300- 500 mm/yr., the sea level was low and the rainfall at the time of carbonate formation would have remained damp enough to allow silicate weathering of the soil sediments.

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