Biologically induced accumulations of CaCO3 in orthox soils of Biga, Ivory Coast
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Biologically induced accumulations of calcium carbonate have been found inside orthox soils, under and around the native iroko tree Milicia excelsa (Moraceae) in Biga (Ivory Coast). The nature of these accumulations and their origin were studied in two soil profiles, directly under the tree and at a distance of 30 cm from the trunk. Microscale forms of CaCO3 include: (1) wood pseudomorphic structures such as parenchyma cells, cellulose fibers, and calcitic vessel infillings; (2) three types of rhombohedra; and (3) needle fiber calcite (NFC). In addition, large scale blocks exhibit three types of textures: (1) micritic calcite, which seems to be the original material; (2) light-colored sparite in moldic voids; and (3) asymmetrical radiaxial laminated fibrous cement. Some micritic aggregates and hemi-spherulites (vaterite) were found in the sap on the trunk as well as in soils on silica grains and the wood itself. The mineralogy of all these carbonate forms is mainly a stoichiometric calcite or a moderately enriched Mg calcite. However, some samples contain monohydrocalcite, as well as two polymorphs of calcium oxalate (weddellite and whewellite). Calcite precipitation is facilitated by the oxidation of oxalate by soil bacteria that contributes to the increase in pH in Biga soils. This is in contrast to conventional orthox soils. Therefore, three conditions are necessary for biologically induced precipitation of calcium carbonate in orthox soils associated with iroko trees: the presence of a large amount of oxalate (originating from the tree and fungi), the existence of an oxalotrophic flora for oxalate oxidation into carbonate, and a dry season.
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