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From Biology-Online Dictionary | Biology-Online Dictionary
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noun,plural: laterites

Alayer of the soil that is abundant iniron oxide which is resulted from the various weathering of rocks under robustly oxidizing andleaching environment.


The exposed layers are dark brown to reddish that are usually slaggy or lavalike form. It is normally soft when newly quarried but solidify on exposure.

Lateritic soils have clay minerals but poor in silica content since during weathering silica is leached out by water passing through the soil. It is frequently found in moisture areas such as in tropical and subtropical regions.

Laterites are source of aluminum ore which present largely in clay minerals and the hydroxides gibbsite, boehmite, and diaspore, which structurized the composition ofbauxite.

Broad layers of laterite are spongy and somewhat permeable which can function as aquifers in rural areas and it is used insewage treatment facilities wherein it is useful in acid solution followed by precipitation to remove heavy metals and phosphorus.

The recurrence of dry and wet seasons are the vital elements for the formation of laterites wherein during wet season rocks are leached by percolating rain water and the resulting solutions holding the leached ions are transported into the surface by capillary action during dry season.

Laterite have a high Cation Exchange Capacity compare to sandy soils yet if lateric soils becomes degraded a solid top layer will formed that hinders waterinfiltration and seedling growth.

Word Origin: later= “brick” or “tile” + ite (suffix)

See also:


Cation Exchange Capacity

Related terms:

• lateric (adjective)