Incipient weathering rind development on introduced machine-polished granite discs in an Arctic alpine environment, northern Scandinavia

John C. Dixon, Sean W. Campbell, Colin E. Thorn, Robert G. Darmody

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Weathering rinds, zones of alteration on the exterior surfaces of rock outcrops and coarse unconsolidated surficial debris are widely used by geomorphologists and Quaternary geologists as indicators of the relative age of landforms and landscapes. Additionally they provide unique insights into the earliest stages of rock and mineral weathering, yet the origin of these alteration zones is relatively poorly understood. This lack of understanding applies especially to the initial stages of rind formation. The study reported in this paper has two principal objectives. The first is to use lightly polished granite discs inserted in soil profiles under several different plant communities in an Arctic alpine environment for a period of four or five years to investigate the nature of incipient weathering rind development. The second is to investigate the factors responsible for spatial variability in the nature and rates of rind formation. Incipient weathering rind development on the outer edges of the granite discs is observable and measurable over a period of time as short as four years in the mild Arctic alpine environment of Swedish Lapland. The earliest stages of rind development involve the development of a porous structure consisting of a combination of pits and fractures which have been solutionally enlarged and modified. Solution appears to be preferentially concentrated on the surfaces of feldspars and, to a lesser extent, quarts. In addition, iron oxides are present along grain boundaries and in grain interiors and are interpreted to have been derived from the oxidation of ferromagnesian minerals. Spatial variability in weathering rind development appears to be particularly driven by differences in moisture but is not related to soil pH.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)111-121
Number of pages11
JournalEarth Surface Processes and Landforms
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2006


  • Alpine environments
  • Arctic environments
  • Chemical weathering
  • Weathering rinds

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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