van Deventer, PW, Bloem, AA & Hattingh, JM 2006, 'Pedogenesis in Mine Tailings', in AB Fourie & M Tibbett (eds), Proceedings of the First International Seminar on Mine Closure
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Although mine tailings dams are man-made deposits it is anticipated that soil forming (pedogenic) processes
are active e.g. translocation and transformation. These two main groups of soil forming processes are
controlled by environmental factors, also called soil forming factors; parent material, climate, topography,
and biota. In the case of man made deposits, the anthropogenic factor could also be added. These factors
operate and interact over time. Due to the infant condition of about all factors, the soil forming processes are
also in an embriotic stage with poorly recognisable properties and diagnostic horizons, but the chemical and
physical characteristics are clear and pronounced. Irrespective of the time since deposition or rehabilitation,
well defined pedochemical transformation processes e.g. pH and changes in base saturation, took place in the
platinum, gold, and kimberlite tailings. Other pedogenic processes such as leaching: eluviation-illuviation,
oxidation and pseudo podzolization were also identified in analytical results in some of the tailings materials.
Field observations also reveal other processes such as salination, crystalopedoturbation, erosion and crusting
and to a lesser extent also horizon differentiation.
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Mine Closure 2006, Perth, Australia 389
Pedogenesis in Mine Tailings P.W. van Deventer, et al.
390 Mine Closure 2006, Perth, Australia