Saprolite is a chemically weathered rock. Saprolites form in the lower zones laterite soil properties pdf soil profiles and represent deep weathering of the bedrock surface. In most outcrops its color comes from ferric compounds.
Conditions for the formation of deeply weathered regolith include a topographically moderate relief flat enough to prevent erosion and to allow leaching of the products of chemical weathering. The third condition is humid tropical to temperate climate. Poorly weathered saprolite grit aquifers are capable of producing groundwater, often suitable for livestock. More intense weathering results in a continuous transition from saprolite to laterite.
Saprolites form in the lower zones of soil horizons and represent deep weathering of the bedrock surface. Iron compounds are the primary coloring agents in saprolites. Although these deeply weathered terrains now occur in a wide variety of climates ranging from warm humid to arid, tropical to temperate, they were formed under similar conditions in the past.
In parts of Africa, India, South America, Australia and southeast Asia, regolith has been forming continuously for over 100 million years. In some localities it is possible to relatively date saprolite by considering that the saprolite must be younger than the parent material and older than any thick cover unit such a lava or sedimentary rock.
This principle is usefull in some contexts but in others, like certain parts of Sweden where grus is formed from Precambrian rocks and overlain by Quaternary deposits, it is of little value. Saprolites form in high rainfall regions which result in chemical weathering and are characterised by distinct decomposition of the parent rock’s mineralogy. Conditions for the formation of deeply weathered regolith include a topographically moderate relief flat enough to allow leaching of the products of chemical weathering. Deep weathering can occur in cooler climates, but over longer periods of time.