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Snowballs in the Devil’s Anus, etc.

A lecture one regrets not having seen:

Snowballs in the Devil’s Anus and Other Adventures in the World of Pedogenic Sulfates,” BUCK, B.J., LAWTON, T.F., MERKLER, D., HOWLEY, R.A., KHRESAT, S., RAWAJFIH, Z., WAIDMANN, B. and HANSON, A., paper no. 96-2 presented at the 2003 Seattle Annual Meeting (November 2–5, 2003), Quaternary Geology/Geomorphology III: Soils, Aeolian, and Marine Geomorphology, Washington State Convention and Trade Center: 618/619/620 — published in  Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, Vol. 35, No. 6, September 2003, p. 257. (Thanks to investigator Tom Gill for bringing this to our attention.) The abstract explains:

Gypsic soils occupy more than 2×108 hectares worldwide. Pedogenic gypsum can form in any type of parent material, and is most common in arid and semi-arid climates. Accumulation of gypsum in soil can affect all physical and chemical characteristics and produce adverse effects on both agricultural and engineering uses. In this study, we examined pedogenic gypsum in Quaternary to modern soils from Nevada, California, New Mexico, northern Jordan; and in Eocene paleosols from northeastern Mexico….
Pedogenic sulfate minerals and other salts are not only important in modern and Quaternary soils, but can persist into the rock record and can be used for a multitude of paleoenvironmental, and tectonic applications. For example, Eocene paleosols in the Carroza Formation in Mexico (Devil’s Anus) contain pedogenic gypsum that accumulated during periods of uplift and exposure of the La Popa diapir. Snowballs, stage II nodules, and natric horizons are preserved and provide insight into the tectonic history of the diapir.

BONUS: In an unrelated field, the colorful phrase plays a key role in the study “Devil Take the Hindmost: Chaucer, John Gay, and the Pecuniary Anus“, Fiffany Beechy, The Chaucer Review, Volume 41, Number 1, 2006, pp. 71-85.

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