Mineralogy, Micromorphology, and Genesis of Soils with Varying Drainage Along a Hillslope on Granitic Rocks of the Atlantic Forest Biome, Brazil

ABSTRACT Although the physical environment of the Atlantic Forest realm is well known, studies on the soil-landform relationships are fundamental to improve the management of soil resources to facilitate sustainable development. The purpose of this study was to evaluate a representative topossequence on the “Mares de Morros” landscape of deeply weathered regolith on leucocratic granite rocks and demi-orange convex slopes. The soils varied along the topossequence according to drainage and were classified as Acrudox, Pseudogleysol, and Epiaquent. The clay fraction was composed by kaolinite, in association with gibbsite, goethite, hematite, and traces of vermiculite and hydroxy-Al interlayered vermiculite (HIV). The kaolinite crystallinity index obtained by different methods showed high structural disorder throughout the sequence, indicating that long-term pre-weathering has produced a homogenous regolith with little differences in terms of mineralogy, despite the changes in drainage. On the other hand, micromorphological features showed a complete change from the typical, well-developed microaggregate structure of upland, well-drained soils, to a massive, poorly developed structure downslope, consistent with the morphological description. Changes in microstructure development and micropedological features occurred both vertically and laterally along the topossequence and indicate that mineralogy alone cannot account for the microaggregate structure of kaolinitic Latossolos (Oxisols) well-drained with low Fe contents. Soils from the “Mares de Morros” landscape of the Alegre river basin on leucocratic granitic rocks highlight an inheritance of a deep pre-weathered regolith, showing subtle chemical and mineralogical changes, but marked morphological and physical differences along the topossequence, basically controlled by soil drainage in the past or present.