The Origin of Clay Minerals in Soils and Weathered Rocks

The importance of clay minerals and their origin is crucial to an understanding of the physico-chemical functions of the interface at the Earth’s surface. Their place is that of contact between the mineral world and the living world, plants and finally mankind. This contact zone is the realm of much of the environment as we see it today. If we can understand the way clays function in their interaction with plants, we can understand the major forces which shape our immediate environment. We see increasingly that human activity interacts with the plant and mineral interface through the use of more powerful chemicals, either by purposeful application of accidental dispersion. Knowledge of the origin and transformation of clay minerals, their dynamic response to changing chemistry, is the key to a rational use of this natural boundary which affects our lives. The information and the analysis presented here is an attempt to set trends of research in the direction of preventive and creative use of the plant – soil interface. Clays are the product of slow transformations of high temperature rocks into reactive, fine grained material. This material, once in the sphere of plant interaction, becomes highly reactive with transformation periods of tens to hundreds of years. The challenge of the future is to use these rapid responses to the benefit of mankind. This book aims to further a better understanding of such mechanisms, and it is thus destined for an audience of ecologists, pedologists, agronomists and other researchers involved in earth surface science
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