High exchangeable calcium concentrations in soils on Barro Colorado Island, Panama

Messmer, Tobias; Elsenbeer, Helmut; Wilcke, Wolfgang (2014). High exchangeable calcium concentrations in soils on Barro Colorado Island, Panama. Geoderma, 217-218, pp. 212-224. Elsevier Science 10.1016/j.geoderma.2013.10.021

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The soils on four lithologies (basaltic conglomerates, Bohio; Andesite; volcanoclastic sediments with basaltic agglomerates, Caimito volcanic; foraminiferal limestone, Caimito marine) on Barro Colorado Island (BCI) have high exchangeable Ca concentrations and cation-exchange capacities (CEC) compared to other tropical soils on similar parent material. In the 0–10 cm layer of 24 mineral soils, pH values ranged from 5.7 (Caimito volcanic and Andesite) to 6.5 (Caimito marine), concentrations of exchangeable Ca from 134 mmolc kg− 1 (Caimito volcanic) to 585 mmolc kg− 1 (Caimito marine), and cation exchange capacities from 317 mmolc kg− 1 (Caimito volcanic) to 933 mmolc kg− 1 (Caimito marine). X-ray diffractometry of the fraction < 2 μm revealed that smectites dominated the clay mineral assemblage in soil except on Caimito volcanic, where kaolinite was the dominant clay mineral. Exchangeable Ca concentrations decreased with increasing soil depth except on Caimito marine. The weathering indices Chemical Index of Alteration (CIA), Plagioclase Index of Alteration (PIA) and Weathering Index of Parker (WIP) determined for five soils on all geological formations, suggested that in contrast to expectation the topsoil (0–10 cm) appeared to be the least and the subsoil (50–70 cm) and saprolite (isomorphically weathered rock in the soil matrix) the most weathered. Additionally, the weathering indices indicated depletion of base cations and enrichment of Al-(hydr)oxides throughout the soil profile. Tree species did not have an effect on soil properties. Impeded leaching and the related occurrence of overland flow seem to be important in determining clay mineralogy. Our results suggest that (i) edaphic conditions favor the formation of smectites on most lithologies resulting in high CEC and thus high retention capacity for Ca and (ii) that there is an external source such as dust or sea spray deposition supplying Ca to the soils.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography

UniBE Contributor:

Messmer, Tobias and Wilcke, Wolfgang


900 History > 910 Geography & travel




Elsevier Science




Monika Wälti-Stampfli

Date Deposited:

18 Jun 2014 10:54

Last Modified:

05 Feb 2015 00:13

Publisher DOI:






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