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Mineral.

Deposita 17, 245-256 (1982)


MINERALIUM
DEPOSITA
© Springer-Verlag 1982

Laterites of Sri Lanka- A Reconnaissance Study


K. Dahanayake
Department of Geology, University of Peradeniya, Peradeniya, Sri Lanka

Laterites occur extensively in the lowlands of Sri Lanka whereas these are observed
as localized outcrops in the uplands and the highlands. In lateritic weathering pro-
files, Al-rich zones are found between and beneath harder Fe-rich layers. The pro-
cesses of lateritisation and bauxitisation have produced residual products enriched
in both Fe20 3 and AI20 3. In the lowlands and uplands the lateritisation processes
have prevailed and the bauxitisation trend is more pronounced in the highlands.

Les gisements lat~ritiques s' observent largement dans les "lowlands" du Sri Lanka.
Mats dans les "uplands" et "highlands" les affleurements lat~ritiques soni rares.
Aux profils d' alteration les zones riches en A1 se trouvent entre ou sous les zones
plus dures mats riches en Fe. Les deux processus de lat~ritisation et bauxitisation
ont donn~ lieu aux produits r~siduels riches en Fe~O, ainsi qu' en AI20~. Ii a ~t~
observ8 que le proeessus de lat~ritisation se prodZii~plus souvent dans ~es "lowlands"
et "uplands" tandis que la bauxitisation est plus repandue aux "highlands".

INTRODUCTION weathering processes. In this work, the


term lalerite is used to denote a rock
The term laterite as defined by Buchanan whose Fe and A1 contents are enriched.
(1907) represents a rock variety among The term lateritisation is employed to
many which look different although form- designate such processes, which result
ed in similar ways. The main process of in the residual enrichment of Fe20 3
laterite formation is the relative or abso- and the term bauxitisation is reserved
lute enrichment of AI, Fe, Mn, Ni and for those giving residues rich in AI20 3.
Cr. Such a weathering process occurring Since the laterites studied have shown to
under tropical or sub-tropical climatic be rich in both these oxides, these par-
conditions may lead to the formation of a ameters have been utilized for the pur-
range of products prominent among pose of this work. In Sri Lanka up to now
them in Sri Lanka being Fe-rich, AI- little work has been carried out on later-
rich and Ni-rich laterites. Thus a given ires rich in Fe and AI. Herath (1963 and
rock may be upgraded in a metal con- 1973) studied the mineralogy of some
tent by leaching of silica during the laterites and associated industrial clays.

0026-4598/82/0017/0245/$02.40
246 K. Dahanayake

• Lowlands
b
• Uplonds

x HighIends

o,~3

• Anurodhopuro
e41
• 42

e46
•40
• 39
LOWLANDS
e38

%35 ~.
eKandy?2 I
e7 A j~A k
p.. . ,s6 ~ 7 ~ L \

• A3o\ 'JJ A- I
to " l
29 J25~.," t~uw~ro Eliya
• L'yx.x X x X {" x • 16 15
Colombo '
Fig. i. Map of Sri
Lanka showing the
UPL ANDS three physiographic
~52 regions. The num-
LOWLANDS
bered circles, tri-
A53 angles and crosses
refer to sampling
5? points in the low-
0 40kin lands, uplands and
E
highlands respective-
Hatera ly

Dissanayake and Vitanage (1977) discuss- laterites collected from a large number
ed the preliminary investigations for of localities.
bauxites in Sri Lanka. Dissanayake (1979)
studied the mineralogy and chemical corn- The present study aims at determining
position of some laterites. Dahanayake the degree to which the processes of la-
and Dissanayake (1979) discussed the dis- teritisation and bauxitisation have been
tribution and chemical composition of active in different physiographic regions
Laterites of Sri Lanka 247

PHYSIOGRAPHY, CLIMATE AND GEO-


The three distinct physiographic regi-
LOGY OF SRI LANKA ons were considered to be three pene-
plains by Wadia (1943) who attributed
On the basis of height and slope charac- their existence to successive block up-
teristics and the observable regional lifts (Fig. 2). The same author recogniz-
topographic discontinuities the island of ed a general accordance of summit levels
Sri Lanka can be divided into three physio- of erosion remnants within the peneplains
graphic regions (Vitanage, 1970); lowlands,and also the existence of vigorous water-
uplands and highlands (Fig. i). The low-
falls along the plain boundaries. Vitanage
lands have elevations ranging from 0 to
(1972) referred to the different morpholo-
270 m above MSL; isolated ridges with gical regions as erosion surfaces.
gentle slopes (0-i0 °) occur in a vast
coastal area dissected by sluggish The present climatic conditions of Sri
streams and rivers. The uplands lie at Lanka can be described as tropical humid.
elevations of 270 to 1060 m and are cha- In the study areas where mean annual
racterized by parallel ridge and valley rainfall lies between 2000 to 3000 mm the
topography and also by highly dissected SW and NE monsoons as well as intermit-
plateaux with narrow arenas, amphithe- tent thunderstorms arrive more or less
aters and domes. The slopes range from regularly. In most parts of the lowlands
]0 to 35 ° along the ridges and are con- the higher rainfall figures are attained
trolled generally by lithology and struc- and in the uplands and highlands the pre-
ture. In the upland regions, well develop- cipitation is less and approaches the lower
ed steep scarps are common and water- figures. The temperature varies from 15
falls are prominent along them. The to 32°C throughout a given year in the dif-
arena floors are flat and undulating with ferent physiographic regions.
gentle slopes ranging from 0 to i0 °. The
highlands are typified by a series of well The island of Sri Lanka is underlain
defined plateaux which are rimmed by mainly by Precambrian metamorphic
mountain peaks and ridges with elevations rocks except for the narrow coastal
ranging from 910 to 2420 m above I~ISL. strips which contain Jurassic and Mio-
High level topographic discontinuities are cene sediments (Fig. 3). The Preeam-
common at the boundaries of plateaux. brian rocks have been divided into

Adam's Peak pidurutalagala


((2190 rn ) ( 2460 rn )

~.."~"--4,-,j" v ~ ' ~ " ~ tF~F ~ ~ ~ .~,..,,~.L.-- ~ ,/"'-""- ~ ---v--


F
F = Faults

(Af£er Wad~a, 1943)


Fig. 2. T h r e e peneplains of Sri L a n k a postulated by W a d i a (1943) - an idealized cross
section across Sri L a n k a
248 K. Dahanayake

LEGEND

~::~ Limestones & Sandstones. MIOCENE


~-~ Sandstones. Silfstones & - JURASSIC
~S ./"
"'~~ .~
~ v, -o . ,uds,ones
I J~-} I 7ayan ~. rnplex
~ ~~ l rs ~" ~.~ " ~"\ ~
, .,
Highland
Highlan ' Group ~ PRECAMBRIAN
(-~" ~l . ~ . . ( f ~ ~ So.,h.e,
Southwestern Group J
~--;., Ss (, ~ , ~,," ',...-. ~
";- k..~" X [+ "1-[ Granites
•0 " ,, ,';.27." I ~ I'li,~i,I Doler,te
(--V ' "> "i," / I ,-~.,()

,i / / .' /\
';il i i t

',:;<" ' {3,':t


1i ~ t.,<ond,: "'."l!:'i"' )
t>¢" ~ \ \ " \'\ S ij~"'_~
-o<'\\
Colcmbo ~\ "Kadawaia.
~.,,,,\ \ -\ ,,\ ,Nuwara
~ _ E/G~
:, J" ' //
\kX",.x, . \ \.....-"';s, , J
/
Fig. 3. Map of Sri Lanka
showing the major geologi-
cal d'ivisions and the loca-
tions of weathering profiles
o io ~,o
km
studied.

three major units by Cooray (1978): ring in stages giving a "low" and "high"
Vijayan Complex, Highland Group and topography (Fig. 2). The same author be-
Southwestern Group. Vijayan Complex lieved that the lowest peneplain was the
consists of granites, gneisses, migma- oldest of the three post Jurassic pene-
tites and pegmatites. Highland Group plains (ist, 2nd and 3rd peneplains),
comprises quartzites, charnockites, where Gondwana deposits akin to those
gneisses, khondalites, granulites and of Deccan landmass were deposited. The
marbles. Cordierite gneisses, charnock- second and third peneplains are bounded
ites, quartzites and calc-silicate rocks by scarp faces of considerable relief
form the Southwestern Group. (500-1000m) and these abrupt structural
features are characterized by rings of
waterfalls. The scarp faces are attribut-
TECTONIC HISTORY OF SRI LANKA
ed to faulting by the same author (1943)
Wadia (1943) noted that the hilly terrain and those formed around the second pene-
in Central Sri Lanka represented fault plain were thought to have formed during
mountains formed by block uplifts occur- the time of tectonic activity which faulted
Laterites of Sri L a n k a 249

the Jurassic basins at Tabbowa and Andi- H o w e v e r onshore observations in Sri


gama in NW Sri Lanka (Fig. 3). The 3rd L a n k a such as the hot water springs as-
peneplain, now forming the highest moun- sociated with a host of other structural
tains of the Central Highlands, was con- features attest to the continuation of tec-
sidered to be the youngest formed probab- tonism even upto this date.
ly during Tertiary.
Thus it is believed that the Sri Lankan METHOD OF STUDY
Preeambrian with mostly NNE and NNW As a pilot investigation, samples were
trending ridges had been subjected to at collected from different horizons to study
least two successive uplifts caused by variation in texture in three representa-
faulting. However direct evidences of fault- tive lateritic weathering profiles selected
ing are not very much observed. Vitanage from the lowlands, uplands and highlands
(1959) observed shearing characteristics of Sri Lanka. Chemical analyses of the
in the rocks of the area bordering the samples show the existence of an Al-rich
2nd and 3rd peneplains. The eastern layer between and beneath harder Fe-
border area between the 2nd and 3rd pene- rich horizons. The texture of theAl-rich
plains is also characterized by a series horizon is not significant in that it occurr-
of hot springs, dolerite dikes and serpen- ed frequently as a clayey horizon. Based
tinite intrusive bodies (Munsinghe and on this investigation, samples were col-
Dissanayake, 1979). The western border lected from 72 lateritic weathering pro-
too shows intrusive characteristics and files located in the different physiograph-
zircon and hornblende granites (Cooray, ic regions of Sri Lanka (Fig. i). The
1978), carbonatite bodies have been re- sampling was carried out in the exposed
ported in this area, (topmost harder vesicular)porous hori-
zons of the weathering profiles located
Vitanage (1970, 1972) suggested a
on road cuttings. The samples were ana-
series of vertical movements since the lysed for their chemical composition
Precambrian upto the present with cul- and the results indicated a dominant pre-
minating phases in the Jurassic and the
sence of the three oxides - Fe203, AI20 3
Miocene. The same author noted small and SiO 2.As such, their relative percent-
scale displacements (of the horst-graben ages were computed and the results were
type) with NW and NE orientations while
plotted in a ternary diagram with the ox-
mapping a 8 km long tunnel of the Central ides as end members (Fig. 7).
Highlands which lies in the western bound-
ary of the 2nd peneplain of Wadia (1943).
Remarkable occurrences of horst-graben M O D E S OF OCCURRENCE OF LAT-
structural feature can be frequently ob- ERITES
served in this region. In the lowlands of Sri Lanka, laterite
capped ridges are extensively developed.
Thus it is seen that the Precambrian
The weathering profiles can be observed
basement area of Sri Lanka as well as
to depths reaching a maximum of 39m. In
the area between Sri Lanka and India
the recently sunk wells and road cuts,
(underlain by Cauvery basin) have been
the laterite horizons with vesicular tex-
characterized by continuous tectonic ac-
ture are found to depths of 10m and the
tivity since the Upper Gondwana period.
remainder is formed of lithomarge and
Observations by Cantwell et al. (1978) of
bedrock. The bedrock is commonly bio-
stratigraphic sections in the Cauvery
tite gneiss, charnockite or garnetifer-
basin area towards N and NW of Srf Lan-
ous gneiss.
ka suggest a reduction in the degree of
thickness variations of stratigraphic in- In the uplands and highlands, laterites
tervals towards the end of Oligocene. are sparsely distributed along slopes of
Thus offshore stratigraphy tends to in- ridges bordering the valleys. The observ-
dicate that tectonism in Cauvery basin ed weathering profiles show lateritic
was waning towards the end of Oligocene. layers whose thicknesses rarely exceed
250 K. Dahanayake

~e~% Al2 % Si%


0 to 50"/, 0 to 50"/. 0 to 50"/.
! I

o-

I vesicular hard
lateritic cap

biscuit - like
softer laterlte

0 . ." " '

2m- "'." . .
concretionary
clayey l a t e r i t e
• . . . •

~ ~ •~
"7, , . ,
\ nodular quartz grains

clayey laterite
Fig. 4. A lateritic
weathering profile
(Profile i) from the
lifhornarge lowlands (Kadawata,
Sri Lanka). Graphs
3m- -- . . . . .
indicate the relative
weathered bed rock
(biotite gneiss ?)
vertical variations
of Fe203, AI203
and SiO 2

5m. Vesicular texture is not common. weathering profiles from the lowlands,
The lithomarge and decomposed bedrock uplands and highlands are given below:
are poorly developed.
Profile I (Lowlands) (Fig. 4) - Table 1
The vertical distribution of lithologic
F r o m top to bottom: vesieular hard lat-
horizons within three representative
eritic cap with pisolitic and vermicular
textures (ira); biscuitlike (platy hard pan-
like structures in a clayey matrix) softer
Table I. R e l a t i v e p e r c e n t a g e s of laterite (. 8m); concretionary clayey
FegO3, A1203 and SiO 2 in the
lat%r~ic samples of Profile l-low- laterite (. 8m); clayey laterite with over-
lands, Kadawata, Sri Lanka (from lying layer of nodular quartz (. 3m);
top to bottom) (see also Fig. 4) lithomarge (. 3m); weathered biotite
gneiss.
Depth b e l o w Fe203 AI203 SiO 2
surface Profile 2 (Uplands) (Fig. 5) - Table 2
Om 25 34.31 32 42 33.25 F r o m top to bottom: vesicular laterite
Om 75 42.08 32 10 25.80 with pisolitic texture (I, 25m); vermi-
Im 40 26.42 38 31 35.26 cular laterite with associated quartz
Im 80 38.83 32 67 28.49
grains (. 7m); concretionary clayey lat-
2m 20 34.67 35 07 30.25
2m 60 47.98 28 O1 24.00 erite (. 7m); biscuit-like hard laterite
(. 6m); vermicular soft laterite (. 5m);
Laterites of Sri Lanka 251

%% %% si%
0 to 50°/, 0 foSO'L 0 to 50%
I [ I

o- ~

vesicular herd
/eterific cap

tm-

vermicular soft /oterlte


/J with associqted
free quartz grains

2m- ~,e:%p ,
.~..o. ~. concretionory clayey
" "O ' " " " ~
leterite

biscuit- like massive


herd lafer(te

vermicular softer laterite

free quartz grains


Fig. 5. A lateritie
lithornerge weathering profile
(Profile 2) from the
uplands, (Kandy, Sri
weathered bed rock Lanka). Graphs indi-

5rn. ~t ( garne t iferous gneiss) cate the relative ver-


tical variations of
Fe203, AI203 and
SiO 2

Table 2. R e l a t i v e p e r c e n t a g e s of lithomarge with an overlying layer of


Fe203, AI203 and SiO 2 in the nodular quartz (.5m); weathered gar-
l a t e r i t i c samples of P r o f i l e 2-up- netiferous gneiss.
lands, Kandy, Sri Lanka (from top
to bottom) (see also Fig. 5)

Depth b e l o w Fe203 AI203 SiO 2 Profile 3 (Highlands) (Fig. 6) - Table 3


surface
F r o m top to bottom: black humic soil
Om 40 30.41 19.68 49.89 (. 5m); lateritic soil with iron concre-
Im 35.07 23.19 41.72 tions (. 3m); mottled zone (locally bis-
Im 75 30.37 22.48 47.13
2m 40 31.96 27.03 41.OO cuit-like texture) (. 5m); mottled zone,
3m 25 32.02 24.44 43.53 locally biscuit-like), associated with
3m 60 38.90 11.19 49.90 isolated quartz grains (. 9m); lithomarge
(. 4m); weathered garnetiferous gneiss.
252 K. Dahanayake

0 to 50% t 0 to 50°/° I 0 to 50"/, z

hum/c soil
• . . . • • ,

!.:i:.. :.' :/
laleritic soil with
iron concretions

i/
z
motl[ed zone
locally biscuit 7ike)
Fig. 6. A lateritic
moftled zone
C'o ~ ° weathering profile
(locally biscuit-Tike)
~th i~olated
(Profile 3) from the
uartz grains highlands (Nuwara
ifhomarge
Eliya, Sri Lanka)
Graphs indicate the
weathered bed rock relative vertical vari-
( garnefiferous gneiss)
.2 " ~.,) ations of Fe203, AI203
and SiO 2

CHEMICAL COMPOSITION OF LAT- presentative profiles for varying tex-


ERITES tures show a distinct Al-rich horizon
in each of them (Figs. 4-6, Tables 1-3).
The results of chemical analysis of In the profile of the lowlands, the AI-
samples collected from the three re- rich zone shows increasing AI203 and

• Lowlands

%% • Uplands

x Highlands

I
• 0

~ xo x

• AA

• ~ • •A Fig. 7. Diagram show-


Ax ing the relative percen-
tages of Fe203, AI203
and SiO2, in the later-
itic samples collected
sio2 50
t Fo
23
from the three physio-
graphic regions of Sri
Lateritisatlon increasing ) Lanka
Laterites of Sri L a n k a 253

T a b l e 3. R e l a t i v e p e r c e n t a g e s of SiO 2 contents for decreasing Fe203. In


Fe203, A I 2 0 3 and SiO 2 in the the profile of the uplands high AI203
l a t e r i t i c samples of P r o f i l e 3 - h i g h - and F e 2 0 3 values are s h o w n for decreas-
lands, N u w a r a Eliya, Sri L a n k a (from ing SiO 2. In the highlands profile, high
top to bottom) (see also Fig. 6)
A I 2 0 3 content with appreciable decrease
Deep below Fe203 AI203 SiO2 of F e 2 0 3 was noted though with high
surface quantities of SiO 2.
T h e data of chemical analyses of iat-
Om 75 51.53 19.92 28.75
Im 20 35.89 15.83 48.26 critic samples collected f r o m weather-
Im 50 06.35 22.12 71 .52 ing profiles of different physiographic
2m 15.25 24.08 60.67 regions w e r e computed to determine the
relative values for Fe203, AI203 and

T a b l e 4. R e l a t i v e p e r c e n t a g e s of Fe203, AI203, and SiO 2 in the


lateritic s a m p l e s of Sri L a n k a (see also Fig. 7)

Sample Fe203 AI203 SiO 2 Sample Fe203 AI203 SiO 2


No. No.

O1 33.61 40.81 25.95 37 35.04 13.90 51 .05


02 27.60 46.69 25.70 38 40.13 11 92 47.93
03 35.70 27.30 36.90 39 36.75 16 43 46.80
04 16.60 28.50 54.7O 40 32.01 18 16 49.81
O5 20.90 28.30 50.60 41 03.96 11 88 84.14
06 26.25 32.50 53.75 42 03.43 19 94 76.61
O7 21 86 28.95 49.18 43 23.87 18 O9 58.02
O8 21 09 30.77 48.12 44 15.29 31 58 53.]2
09 46 39 18.01 35 59 45 46.92 24.20 28.86
I0 20 47 26.23 53 28 46 24.50 27.10 48.38
11 36 81 23.65 39 52 48 46.25 32.44 21 .30
12 16 06 30.47 43 46 49 33.74 48.65 17.59
13 11 02 25.07 63 90 5O 45.49 32.27 22.22
14 11 52 24.03 64 43 51 28.94 27.26 43.79
15 10 72 29.34 59 93 52 24.41 31.11 44.46
16 13 18 32.30 54.51 53 15 77 45.62 38.60
17 12 01 32.84 55.13 54 11 29 28.92 59.78
18 16.50 20.84 62.65 55 17 14 32.18 50.66
19 12.05 28.15 59.79 56 10 56 30.04 59.39
2O 21.20 29.93 48.84 57 23 96 27.54 48.49
21 16.07 34.02 49.89 58 68 15 14.60 17.23
22 21.39 30.90 47.69 59 13 19 29.83 56.96
23 11.96 37.97 50.06 60 37 73 31 .08 31 .17
24 14.33 29.09 56.57 61 32 96 39.68 27.35
25 20.83 31.94 47.38 62 27.94 30.77 41 .28
26 09.80 31.99 58.19 63 28.50 31 .97 39,51
27 25.93 26.40 47.66 64 28.54 20.10 41 . 3 4
28 09.46 34.83 55.69 65 33.32 25.31 41 . 3 5
29 20.69 29.06 50,23 66 18.13 20.29 61 . 5 6
3O 28.43 50.16 21.39 67 36.34 28.19 35,45
31 24.56 22.80 52.63 68 34.61 27.44 37.94
32 10.79 27.81 61.38 69 27.68 31 .79 40.52
33 O6.71 37.27 56.02 70 40.81 26.20 32.97
34 13.92 26,42 59.64 71 12.72 38.06 49.20
35 13.45 25.93 60.61 72 21.81 59.2O 18.98
36 04.87 09.51 85.60 73 09.05 64,06 26.88
254 K. D a h a n a y a k e

T a b l e 5. C h e m i c a l a n d m i n e r a l o g i c a l MINERAL COMPOSITION OF LATERITES


composition of s o m e l a t e r i t e s a m p l e s
from the physiographic regions The observations regarding the bauxiti-
(modified ater Dissanayake, and sation trend can only be justified by a sys-
Vitanage, 1977) tematic mineralogical analysis of the la-
teritic samples. The available combined
Chemical Beruwala Kandy Nuwara chemical and mineralogical data of some
compo- (low- (up- Eliya random lateritic samples located in wea-
sition lands) lands) (high-
thering profiles from lowlands (Beruwala),
lands)
uplands (Kandy) and highlands (Nuwara
AI203 31.1 41.8 46.7 Eliya) are given in Table 5. In spite of
the random nature of these samples,
SiO 2 40.2 13.4 19.6
the data tend to confirm the earlier ob-
Fe203 10.4 15.4 06.6 servations based on the chemical ana-
TiO 2 01.9 O1.4 00.3 lysis of laterites:

MnO 2 - _ _
L o s s on DISCUSSION
16.2 26.0 25.2
ignition
The available field and laboratory data
Mineralogical suggest that both lateritisation and bau-
composition xitisation processes have been active in
Sri Lanka. Lateritisation is restricted
Gibbsite 26.5 59.0 63.5
to the lowlands and the uplands whereas
Goethite 06.8 19.2 08.2 bauxitisation shows a general pattern in
Hematite 05.0 - - all three physiographic regions with a
marked trend in the highlands.
Kaolinite 32.6 - -
Metahal- In the lowlands, the deep weathering
- 09.5 12.2 profiles show thick lithomarge and de-
loysite
composed bedrock horizons which in-
Quartz 25.2 09.0 14.O
dicate the more or less static nature of
Ilmenite 01.0 01.4 - the regional water table. The Fe-rieh
Anatase O1.4 O1.4 00.3 layer is well developed and the lateritisa-
tion processes have been active. However
Pyrolusite - - -
the development of the Al-rich horizon,
Adsorp- though with appreciable amounts of SiO 2
tion O1.5 O1.6 01.4 could be due to intermittent fluctuations
water
of the groundwater levels. Such oscilla-
tions would no doubt have favoured both
lateritisation and bauxitisation processes,
the latter being perhaps due to better lo-
SiO 2. The values so obtained were plott-
calized leaching at relatively higher ele-
ed on a ternary diagram with the three
vations. Further detailed studies on later-
oxides as its end-members (Fig. 7,
ires at such elevations could reveal stron-
Table 4). The following observations
ger levels of bauxitisation.
can be made from the ternary diagram:
In the uplands, with less developed
(i) The process of lateritisation is lithomarge and decomposed bedrock
more pronounced in the lowlands and the horizons, the leaching processes have
uplands. been more active to generate moderate
to strong levels of both lateritisation
(it) Significant number of samples
shows a trend towards bauxitisation. and bauxitisation. However in the high-
lands the process of bauxitisation has
(iii) Bauxitisation trend is most notice- prevailed. It is interesting to note that
able in the highlands. a significant majority of the highland
Laterites of Sri Lanka 255

samples showed an exclusive trend to- Acknowledgements. The writer wishes


wards bauxitisation. But this tendency to thank his colleague, Dr. C. B. Dissana-
has been conspicuous by its weak to mod- yake for the useful suggestions through-
erate nature despite the existence of out this study. Dr. J. Berjaud, Scientific
better drainage conditions and potential Counsellor of the French Embassy in Sri
parent materials in the highlands. It is Lanka kindly provided necessary funds
believed that this could be due to the bi- to get samples analysed at CRPG, France
assed nature of sampling which was done under the Sri Lanka-French Technical
at weathering profiles along road cut- Co-operation Programme. Mr.L.R.K.
tings. The roads being located for the Perera is thanked for his assistance in
most part along contours adjacent to the the field and laboratory. A grant from
valleys, the drainage conditions of the the National Science Council of Sri Lan-
weathering profiles could well have been ka is also gratefully acknowledged. For
poor. Therefore the results would obvi- drafting the figures and typing the manu-
ously manifest insufficient leaching with script the writer is grateful to Miss Ja-
higher silica values. yanthi Wijesekera and Mr, K. Dunuhappa-
wa.

CONCLUSION
The present exercise has been carried REFERENCES
out on a reconnaissance basis with much
Buchanan, F. : A journey from Madras
emphasis on the harder and more later-
through the Countries of Mysore,
itic horizons of the weathering profiles.
Canara and Malabar. East India Co.,
A detailed chemical and mineralogical
London 2, 440-441 (1807)
study of the various horizons of the pro-
Cantwell. T., Brown, T.W., Mathews,
files would reveal the exact degree of
D. G. : Petroleum Geology of the North-
bauxitisation prevalent in Sri Lankan
west offshore area of Sri Lanka. Pro-
laterites.
ceedings Seapex Conf. Singapore (1978)
As for the age of laterites and the as- Cooray, P. G. : Geology of Sri Lanka Pre-
sociated processes, a study of the three cambrian. Proceedings, GEOSEA III
distinct erosion/peneplain surfaces, cor- Bangkok, Thailand, 701-710 (1978)
relation and determination of the ages Dahanayake, K., Dissanayake, C.B. :
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