Characterizing a weathering profile over the Kuantan Basalt

Author : John Kuna RajPublication : Bulletin of the Geological Society of MalaysiaNumber : 72Page : 15 - 23Year : 2021DOI :


Bulletin of the Geological Society of Malaysia, Volume 72, November 2021, pp. 15 - 23

Characterizing a weathering profile over the Kuantan Basalt

John Kuna Raj

No. 83, Jalan Burhanuddin Helmi 2, Taman Tun Dr. Ismail, 60000 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
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Abstract: Three broad morphological zones can be differentiated; the top pedological soil (Zone I) being 3.60 m thick and comprising brown, soft to stiff, clays. The intermediate saprock (Zone II) is 1.12 m thick and consists of brown, very stiff, sandy silt with many lateritic concretions, whilst the bottom bedrock (Zone III) is an outcrop of vesicular olivine basalt with weathering along joints. Constant volume samples show the saprolite (sub-zone IC) to have dry unit weights of 11.78 to 12.80 kN/m3, whilst the solum (sub-zones IA and IB), and saprock, have values ranging from 10.65 to 11.09, and from 11.35 to 11.50, kN/m3, respectively. Porosities are variable; the saprolite with the lowest values of 52 to 56% and the solum and saprock with values of 57 to 60%. Clay and silt contents increase up the profile with a corresponding decrease in sand and gravel contents. Colloid (<1 μm size) contents especially increase up the profile from 10 to 15% in saprock through 30 to 40% in saprolite and exceeding 57% in the solum, These increasing colloid contents point to the increasing effects of pedological processes. Thin-sections of weathered rims (1-2 cm thick) show alteration of basalt to start with formation of micro-cracks (Stage 1) that become stained by secondary iron oxides and hydroxides. Decomposition of the essential minerals then occurs in the order: olivine (Stage 2), augite (Stage 3), and plagioclase feldspar (Stage 4). An increase in apparent porosity, but a decrease in unit weights and specific gravity, reflect these stages of weathering; the boundary between ‘rock’ and ‘soil’ material occurring when all olivine and augite crystals have decomposed. It is concluded that the weathering profile results from in situ alteration of basalt due to lowering of an unconfined groundwater table; pedological processes giving rise to further alteration.

Keywords: Weathering profile, Kuantan Basalt, pedological soil, saprock