Exposed weathering profiles of a series of Pololu lava flows in Kohala, Hawaii are ideal for investigating the sequence of reactions/reaction pathways of weathered basalt. Weathering reactions for saprolites show mineral sequences that include feldspar → halloysite ± gibbsite + solutes; clinopyroxene → hematite + minor halloysite + solutes; olivine → hematite + solutes; magnetite → hematite or other Fe-oxides/hydroxides. However, the presence of smectite in four samples suggests that smectite-group clays may form as short lived intermediates at the base of the weathering profile. Regionally, on Kohala, soils and saprolites are dominated by halloysite with small quantities of other clays such as kaolinite, gibbsite, and smectite. However, one horizon in the weathering profile at the study site in Kohala is dominated by gibbsite. Smectite is found at the base of the profile above impermeable areas where mass leaching has left increased alkaline and alkaline earth elemental (Mg, Ca, Na, and K) abundances relative to the parent rock. The amount of elemental gain varies from -5% to +75% for samples with smectite. Different climates generate different weathering profile depths. MASW (multi-channel analysis of surface waves) shows that the depth of the weathering profile is 15 meters. Seismic profiles correlate the depth of the weathering profile inland (~15 meters), with cliff face (~13 meters). Other than the gibbsite horizon, most mineral zones are too thin to be resolved through second-order velocity variations. P-wave reflection surveys are unsuitable for imaging the base of the weathering front because the transition to fresh rock may be gradational. However, within the saprolite section, boundaries between relict lava flow textures produce reflections that mimic expected stratigraphic patterns. Perpendicular to the shoreline, reflectors dip gently seaward, whereas parallel to the shoreline, lenticular packages of relict lava flows are observed.



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Physical and Mathematical Sciences; Geological Sciences



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Kohala, basalt, smectite, weathering, mass, leaching, rate, carbon dioxide



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Geology Commons