Tropical soil toposequence characterization via pXRF spectrometry

Fernanda Magno Silva, David C. Weindorf, Sérgio Henrique Godinho Silva, Elen Alvarenga Silva, Bruno Teixeira Ribeiro, Luiz Roberto Guimarães Guilherme, Nilton Curi

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17 Scopus citations


Variability of elemental composition in a toposequence of quartzite-derived soils in a tropical environment was evaluated via portable x-ray fluorescence (pXRF) spectrometry. The toposequence featured different degrees of weathering and variable soil formation processes. Specifically, this study aimed to: (i) use elemental composition obtained through pXRF as a tool to investigate the degrees of weathering-leaching and pedogenic processes; and (ii) correlate elemental data with physicochemical properties of soils. Four soil profiles (Lithic Ustorthent, Typic Ustorthent, Typic Dystrudept, and Xanthic Hapludox) were described and sampled. Laboratory analysis for soil physicochemical characterization and pXRF were performed. Soils featured high contents of SiO2 due to the predominance of quartz in the rock. However, pXRF analysis revealed that the soils showed a decrease in such content with depth. Potassium contents tended to be greater in the C horizons since they are less weathered and retained greater amounts of K-bearing minerals, such as muscovite. Al, Fe, Ca, Ti, Cu, and Sr increased their contents with increasing clay content in soils, while Zr generally remained stable. Ba was leached out of soils during weathering. Both CaO and Sr were positively correlated with exchangeable contents of Ca2+ and Mg2+, base saturation, pH, and cation exchange capacity, while inversely correlated to Al3+ saturation. Fe, Al, Ti, Ca, K, Cu, Rb, and Zr accumulated in soil in comparison with the parent material. Variability of elemental contents in soils with differential degrees of weathering-leaching can be easily accessed with pXRF and such data correlate well with several soil physicochemical properties.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1153-1166
Number of pages14
JournalSoil Science Society of America Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2019


  • CEC
  • Cation exchange capacity
  • PXRF
  • Portable x-ray fluorescence
  • Prem
  • Remaining phosphorus


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