The presence and formation of hydroxy-interlayered minerals in the Holocene paleosol at the Wugong profile on the southernmost Chinese Loess Plateau were investigated by examining the < 1 μm and 1–2 μm clay fractions of the 50–150 cm horizon by Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and X-ray diffraction (XRD). Prior to the analyses free Al and Fe phases were removed by dithionite-citric-bicarbonate (DCB) extraction. XRD patterns were obtained with air-dried, Mg-saturated, Mg-saturated with glycerol solvation (Mg-glycerol) and K-saturated and heated at 110, 250, 350, 450 and 550 °C samples both before and after hydroxy-interlayered materials removal by sodium citrate extraction. The absorption bands at 3699 and 3430 cm− 1 in the FTIR spectra of both sub-fractions indicated the presence of hydroxy-interlayered minerals. The K-saturated and heated XRD patterns confirmed this by the progressive collapse of the 1.4 nm reflection to a 1.0 nm reflection. After removal of the hydroxy-interlayered materials no obvious increase of the relative XRD intensity of the 1.8 nm reflection in Mg-glycerol pattern was observed and the 1.4 nm reflection exhibited a stronger collapse to 1.0 nm after K-saturation and increasing temperature treatment. This indicated that the hydroxy-interlayered minerals in the Holocene paleosol were mainly composed of hydroxyl-interlayer vermiculite. The hydroxyl-interlayer vermiculite was formed by the polymerization of Al/Fe-hydroxy materials within the interlayer space of vermiculite. Shoulder-like reflection at 1.2 nm in the K-550 °C pattern of the 1–2 μm fraction indicated a higher degree of Al/Fe-hydroxylation in the coarse fraction than in the fine fraction, which was consistent with the lower extractable Al and Fe in the coarse fraction. The reflection at 1.38 nm in the K-550 °C pattern could be interpreted as pedogenic chlorite. Thus, transformation of vermiculite into hydroxy-interlayered vermiculite and finally into a chlorite-like mineral (pedogenic chlorite) has occurred in the Holocene paleosol on the southernmost Chinese Loess Plateau.
- Chinese Loess Plateau
- Clay minerals
- Holocene paleosol
- Hydroxy-interlayered minerals
- Hydroxy-interlayered vermiculite