Numerous workers have examined the weathering products of soil minerals and have proposed empirical weathering sequences. The present paper outlines the development of a thermodynamic model that predicts in a systematic way several mineral transformations that can occur in soils.
According to this model, the stability of primary minerals increases in the order: Na-glass, K-glass, pyroxene, analcime, anorthite, low albite, muscovite, microcline, and quartz. The stability of secondary clay minerals depends on soluble silica. At pH 6 with high silica (≃ 10-3M) the order of increasing stability is: chlorite, halloysite, gibbsite, illite, dickite, beidellite, kaolinite, and montmorillonite; at low silica (≃ 10-5M) the order is: chlorite, halloysite, illite, beidellite, montmorillonite, dickite, kaolinite, and gibbsite. The stability of both primary and secondary minerals increases with pH.
The observed weathering of volcanic ash agrees well with the predictions of this model. The model makes use of important thermodynamic data accumulated for soil minerals and helps to pinpoint deficiencies in these data. The need to examine the kinetics of mineral transformations in soils in greater detail also becomes obvious from this model.