Soil-zone microfabrics in calcrete and in desiccation cracks from the Upper Jurassic Purbeck Formation of Dorset

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Soil-zone microfabrics, alveolar-septal structure, needle-fibre calcite, and calcans are described from horizontal calcrete layers, stringers, and infillings in vertical desiccation cracks from an Upper Jurassic limestone in the Lower Purbeck Formation of Dorset. These calcrete palaeosols occur in an oolitic limestone (the Hard Cap) which represents former evaporitic lagoonal to carbonate mudflat environments. The calcretes occur 6-10 cm below the Great Dirt Bed, a former rendzina soil with rooted tree remains. Desiccation cracks and vugs formed in the oolitic sediment before Great Dirt Bed times. After formation of the Great Dirt Bed, soil-water rich in dissolved CaCO3 preferentially flowed through natural conduits in the underlying sediment, namely the desiccation cracks and vugs. Calcrete precipitated in these cracks and vugs around decaying plant roots, and probably, during more arid (evaporative) climatic periods. These palaeosol microfabrics are among the first to be described from the British Jurassic and were probably preserved due to the semiarid Lower Purbeck climate where rapid oxidation of organic matter limited the amount and strength of carbonic acid generation, thereby limiting extensive dissolution of early formed soil-zone carbonate. Early diagenetic cementation of the sediment also aided microfabric preservation by sealing off soil-zone structures from subsequent diagenetic fluids.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261-270
Number of pages10
JournalGeological Journal
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - 1988

Cite this