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Theme 3: Acid and alkaline soils

Soil degradations by acid and alkaline groundwater seepages are different manifestations of groundwater discharges in relation to rising watertables. They occur in both coastal and inland environments. Acid sulphate soils develop by the mobilisation of sulphur compounds during repeated oxidation and reduction in rising groundwaters in sulphur-rich regolith. During this process metals from underlying rocks may be mobilised, concentrated and again released in acid seeps. These same toxic scalds are also a window on the geochemistry of underlying basement rocks, which is of interest to mineral explorers. Likewise, degraded alkaline scalds are a common part of inland salt-affected soils. Alkaline discharges are often associated with silcrete, calcrete and gypsum, but the sources, stores and transport mechanisms of the main ingredients - sodium and calcium – are not known. Again there are important links between MINEX and NRM applications.



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