The relationship between hydrodynamic properties and weathering of soils derived from volcanic rocks, Galapagos Islands (Ecuador)

Abstract

The aim of this interdisciplinary study is to examine a component of the hydrological cycle in Galapagos by characterizing soil properties. Nine soil profiles were sampled on two islands. Their physical and hydrodynamic properties were analyzed, along with their mineralogical composition. Two groups of soils were identified, with major differences between them. The first group consists of soils located in the highlands (>350 m a.s.l.), characterized by low hydraulic conductivity (<10−5 m s−1) and low porosity (<25%). These soils are thick (several meters) and homogeneous without coarse components. Their clay fraction is considerable and dominated by gibbsite. The second group includes soils located in the low parts of the islands (<300 m a.s.l.). These soils are characterized by high hydraulic conductivity (>10−3 m s−1) and high porosity (>35%). The structure of these soils is heterogeneous and includes coarse materials. The physical properties of the soils are in good agreement with the variations of the rainfall according to the elevation, which appears as the main factor controlling the soil development. The clayey alteration products constrain soils physical and hydrodynamic properties by reducing the porosity and consequently the permeability and also by increasing water retention.

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Acknowledgments

We acknowledge the constructive comments of reviewers, their suggestions enhanced the manuscript. This work benefited from discussions with many scientists, among them the authors would like to thank Ghislain de Marsily and Yves Guéguen. The authors also warmly thank Professor B. Velde at the Laboratoire de Géologie of the Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris for his help with the porosity protocol. Acknowledgments are also due to P. Barré, student of Professor B. Velde, for his help during XRD measurements and interpretations. The authors are also grateful to their sponsors: Fondation de France, Fondation Véolia-environnement, Fondation Schlumberger-Seed.

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Adelinet, M., Fortin, J., d’Ozouville, N. et al. The relationship between hydrodynamic properties and weathering of soils derived from volcanic rocks, Galapagos Islands (Ecuador). Environ Geol 56, 45–58 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00254-007-1138-3

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Keywords

  • Physical soil properties
  • Hydraulic conductivity
  • Mineralogical composition
  • Galapagos Islands