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Characteristics of fragipan B horizons developed on different parent material in North-Western Italy

Raimondo, E., Falsone, G., D’Amico, M., Stanchi, S., Celi, L., Bonifacio, E.
Archiv für Acker- und Pflanzenbau und Bodenkunde 2019 v.65 no.3 pp. 308-321
B horizons, Fragiudalfs, brittleness, clay, discriminant analysis, fragipans, iron oxides, kaolinite, land use, pH, porosity, rivers, roots, weathering, Italy
A Fragipan (Bx) is a soil horizon hard when dry and brittle when moist, that undergoes slaking upon water immersion, forming a barrier to roots and limiting land use. Brittleness and slaking depend on soil porosity and particle arrangement, but still no agreement exists on the inorganic components responsible for such arrangement. We hypothesized that the same kind of particle arrangement may originate from different soil components, ultimately depending on the lithology of parent material, and evaluated the soil and clay characteristics that best differentiate Bx from B horizons. Thirty-six samples were taken from Typic Fragiudalfs developed on the two sides of an alluvial fan characterized by different amounts of ultramafic materials. Discriminant Analysis evidenced that pedogenic Fe oxides were fundamental in discriminating Bx from B horizons on pure ultramafic parent material, while clay mineralogy was more important in soils with less ultramafic materials. In the first case, the association between clay minerals and self-assembling oxides systems may lead to brittleness, while in the second case the higher abundance of kaolinite may contribute to weak associations between pH-dependent sites and negatively charged surfaces. The only common feature to fragipans on both river sides was a higher degree of weathering.