On the Vantage Peak nunatak in the Juneau Icefield of southeastern Alaska, grus and soils display evidence of extensive chemical alteration in a self-evidently periglacial environment. Accompanying the alteration of bedrock to grus and soil is a decrease in grain size. Grus is dominated by very coarse sand while the soils are predominantly fine sand. Grain-size reduction is attributed primarily to mineral grain dissolution. Total chemical analyses show that alkali earths (calcium and magnesium) and alkalis (sodium and potassium) are lost as weathering progresses, while silicon and iron increase relative to resistant elements. Secondary clay minerals present in the grus and soils appear to have been derived from clay-size primary minerals. Vermiculite is the principal secondary clay mineral and appears to have formed by the alteration of biotite. Scanning electron microscopy shows that quartz and feldspars are primarily weathered by dissolution with no evidence of feldspar transformation to secondary clays. Superimposed on these weathering transformations is evidence of eolian processes. Chemical weathering processes, notably dissolution and clay mineral transformation, do occur in the periglacial environment of the Vantage Peak nunatak and are clearly an important component of the periglacial geomorphic process suite.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Science(all)
- Atmospheric Science
- Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
- Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)