The spatial variation of weathering and soil depth across a Triassic sandstone outcrop

Tye, A.M.; Lawley, R.L.; Ellis, M.A.; Rawlins, B.G.. 2011 The spatial variation of weathering and soil depth across a Triassic sandstone outcrop. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 36 (5). 569-581.

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In this study, we used an archive of borehole logs from the British Geological Survey to collect information on the spatial structure of weathering that extends from the surface to competent bedrock across the Triassic Sherwood Sandstone Group outcrop (750 km2), in the East Midlands, UK. The borehole logs were used to estimate the thickness of the soil (n = 280) and soil and saprolite (S&S) to competent rock (n = 500). The weathering profile of the sandstone consisted of soil (median thickness ∼ 1·5 m) overlying a transition zone of compacted and weakly cemented weathered sandstone saprolite over bedrock. Topographic analysis using a NEXTMAP 5 m × 5 m digital elevation model (DEM) revealed no significant relationships between slope properties (relief, flow length, flow accumulation or slope angle) and soil or S&S thickness. A weak, but statistically significant correlation was found between the thickness of the soil and S&S (rs = 0·25, p < 0·001, n = 192). The variation in soil thickness may be related to changes in current and historic and land-use, variation in sandstone properties and the influence of glacial/peri-glacial processes. The thickness of the saprolite was more variable towards the southern part of the study area, where it increased to a maximum 40 m. We hypothesize and provide evidence that the greater weathering thickness is related to the occurrence of increased faulting in this part of the study region, allowing increased access to meteoric waters. A possible source of increased water supply is meltwater from Quaternary ice sheets; the overburden of ice may have increased sub-glacial pore water pressure, with the fractures and faults acting as a drainage system for the removal of dissolved weathering products

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: BGS Programmes 2010 > Land Use, Planning and Development
ISSN: 0197-9337
Date made live: 19 Jul 2011 13:36 +0 (UTC)

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