Geochemical study of soil salinity in a toposequence near Riebeeck West, South Africa

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

A geochemical investigation of salt distribution in soils of the semi-arid of Western Cape, South Africa, was carried out following a pilot study which revealed widespread soil salinity in the Berg River catchment. The present study looks at the distribution of the salts along a toposequence in a subcatchment of the Berg River underlain by Malmesbury Group shale. The objectives were: to investigate salt distribution in relation to landscape topography; to identify potentially harmful trace elements associated with the salinity; and to determine the processes responsible for salt distribution. Ten soil profiles were dug to a depth of 200 cm at points along a slope of angle 10.20 along and 367 m long. The profiles at the crest of the toposequence are underlain by silcrete and alluvium while Malmesbury shale parent material underlies the rest of the profiles. Contour drains disrupt the natural shape of the slope. The soil texture is loamy sand to clay loam at the crest and loamy to sandy-clay loam in the midslope. Mineralogy at the crest is quartz dominated and kaolinite occurs in the mid and lower slope.

Bibliography: leaves 84-91.