The laterization of tropical soils is described and their geologic history, (appeared first in paleozoic times) geographic distribution, and the special problems they have posed to historic civilizations and currently pose to underdeveloped countries are reviewed. Lateritic soils are rich in iron and aluminum, low in silica, chemically acidic, and exhibit a soil profile different from that of other soils. Organic material has been leached out of horizon A; the silica bases are leached away and the layer is depleted of potassium, calcium and phosphorous. The A horizon is composed in large part of oxides of iron, aluminum and other minerals, the B horizon is often either thin or completely absent, and the C horizon may have failed to develop. The soil is so porous that most of the decomposed material has been washed away. Laterization is a function of the soil climate which is related to the atmospheric climate. Laterization of vast areas has operated to reduce rainfall. Experience in Southeast Asia, Africa, and South America is cited, and special attention is urged to the promotion of agricultural economies in such laterized areas.

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  • Corporate Authors:

    Scientific American Incorporated

    415 Madison Avenue
    New York, NY  United States  10017
  • Authors:
    • McNeil, M
  • Publication Date: 1964-11

Media Info

  • Features: Figures; Photos;
  • Pagination: 7 p.
  • Serial:
    • Scientific American
    • Volume: 211
    • Issue Number: 5
    • Publisher: Scientific American Incorporated
    • ISSN: 0036-8733

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00083796
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: May 29 1975 12:00AM