Indian Names

Eduard Selleslagh edsel at
Wed Apr 18 04:32:00 UTC 2001

[Ed Selleslagh]
I think you are referring to 'laterite', which is very common in tropical
rainforest, e.g. the Amazon and the Congo basins. Its origin seems to be
alluvial, but with most of its nutrients washed out: in fact it is almost
sterile, and tropical vegetation basically grows on top of it, rather than
in it, which is why deforested areas (which kills of the microbiological
life in the top layer by exposure to UV from the sun) grow back so slowly,
and why the farmland produced by deforestation is fertile for only a few
years (until the top layer has been stripped of the nutrients).
I'm speaking from experience in the Peruvian Amazon forest.
Maybe some geologist or agronomy expert can provide more precise data.

At 10:25 10/04/01 -0600, you wrote:

>My "ancestral" home (remembering that, in America, "ancestral" is only 100
>years or so) is in Sulphur Springs, Texas.  The entire surface of the ground
>above the river bottoms, which were sandy, was red clay.  Bright brick red
>and as slick as a sheet of ice when it was wet.  It's the most distinctive
>soil I've ever encountered anywhere, both in color and in general
>characteristics.  Perhaps it's not so much an issue of the extent of surface
>red clay in Texas, but its truly distinctive visibility and wet properties
>that make it memorable.

>John E. McLaughlin, Ph.D.
>Associate Professor, English
>Utah State University

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