Recent developments in long term landform evolution modelling have created a new demand for quantitative salt weathering data, and in particular data describing the size distribution of the weathered rock fragments. To enable future development of rock breakdown models for use in landscape evolution and soil production models, laboratory work was undertaken to extend existing schist/salt weathering fragmentation studies to include an examination of the breakdown of sub-millimetre quartz chlorite schist particles in a seasonally wet tropical climate. Laser particle sizing was used to assess the impact of different experimental procedures on the resulting particle size distribution. The results reveal that salt weathering under a range of realistic simulated tropical wet season conditions produces a significant degree of schist particle breakdown. The fragmentation of the schist is characterized by splitting of the larger fragments into mid-sized product with finer material produced, possibly from the breakdown of mid-sized fragments when weathering is more advanced. Salinity, the salt addition method and temperature were all found to affect weathering rates. Subtle differences in mineralogy also produce variations in weathering patterns and rates. It is also shown that an increase in drying temperature leads to accelerated weathering rates, however, the geometry of the fracture process is not significantly affected.
Earth Surface Processes and Landforms Vol. 32, Issue 5, p. 687-697