Warta Geologi, Vol. 47, No. 3, December 2021, pp. 217–225





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Warta Geologi, Vol. 47, No. 3, December 2021, pp. 217–225

Soil moisture retention characteristics of saprock from the weathering profile over a biotite-muscovite granite in Peninsular Malaysia

John Kuna Raj

No. 83, Jalan Burhanuddin Helmi 2, Taman Tun Dr. Ismail, 60000 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Email address: jkr.ttdi.tmc@gmail.com

Abstract: The weathering profile at the slope cut near Km 16 of the Kuala Lumpur - Ipoh trunk road can be differentiated into an upper, 11.8 m thick pedological soil (zone I) and a lower, 31.9 m thick saprock (zone II) comprising silty sandy gravels that distinctly preserve the minerals, textures and structures of the original granite. In order to investigate the influence of particle size distributions on soil moisture retention characteristics, saprock samples were collected at depths of 26.53 m (Sample A), 31.29 m (Sample B) and 41.93 m (Sample C). Samples A and B, with porosities of 37%, comprise 33% gravel, 27% sand, 22% silt and 18% clay, and 31% gravel, 24% sand, 25% silt and 22% clay, respectively. Sample C with a porosity of 44% consists of 24% gravel, 28% sand, 38% silt and 10% clay. Tests with the pressure plate method show increasing suctions from 0 kPa through 0.98 kPa and 9.8 kPa to 33 kPa and 1,500 kPa to result in gravimetric soil moisture retentions of 31.9% through 28.6% and 23.3% to 16.9% and 6.8% in sample A, of 32.1% through 24.9% and 21.5% to 17.8% and 7.4% in sample B, and of 31.5% through 30.3% and 27.30% to 23.5% and 9.5% in sample C. Regression analyses of gravel, sand and clay contents plotted against moisture contents retained at high suctions (33 kPa and 1,500 kPa) yield negative trends with variable correlation coefficients (R2), though plots involving silt contents yield positive trends with large correlation coefficients (R2 >0.9966). It is concluded that adsorption of water on surfaces of silt sized particles (of mainly sericite derived from weathering of feldspars) that gives rise to the retention of soil moisture in saprock.

Keywords: Biotite-muscovite granite, saprock, soil moisture retention, silt content

DOI : https://doi.org/10.7186/wg473202104