caliche

[kuh-lee-chee]
noun Geology.
1.
a surface deposit consisting of sand or clay impregnated with crystalline salts such as sodium nitrate or sodium chloride.
2.
a zone of calcium carbonate or other carbonates in soils of semiarid regions.
Compare duricrust, hardpan.


Origin:
1855–60; < Spanish: flake of lime, equivalent to cal lime (< Latin calc-; see chalk) + -iche noun suffix

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Collins
World English Dictionary
caliche (kæˈliːtʃɪ)
 
n
1.  Also called: calcrete a bed of sand or clay in arid regions cemented by calcium carbonate, sodium chloride, and other soluble minerals
2.  Also called: duricrust a surface layer of soil encrusted with calcium carbonate, occurring in arid regions
 
[C20: from American Spanish, from Latin calx lime]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

caliche
sodium nitrate deposits in Chile and Peru, 1858, from Amer.Sp., from Sp. caliche "pebble in a brick," from L. calx "pebble."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
caliche   (kə-lē'chē)  Pronunciation Key 
See hardpan.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Encyclopedia Britannica
Encyclopedia

caliche

calcium-richcalcium-rich duricrust, a hardened layer in or on a soil. It is formed on calcareous materials as a result of climatic fluctuations in arid and semiarid regions. Calcite is dissolved in groundwater and, under drying conditions, is precipitated as the water evaporates at the surface. Rainwater saturated with carbon dioxide acts as an acid and also dissolves calcite and then redeposits it as a precipitate on the surfaces of the soil particles; as the interstitial soil spaces are filled, an impermeable crust is formed.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
Caliche common near surface but occurrence is not limited to the surface.
These mineral deposits are a calcium carbonate substance called caliche.
The only time caliche is a problem for plants is when the layers of material
  doesn't allow water to drain through it.
Caliche is a reddish-brown to white layer found in many desert soils.
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