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A hard, usually clay-rich layer of soil lying at or just below the ground surface, in which soil particles are cemented together by silica, iron oxide, calcium carbonate, or organic matter that has precipitated from water percolating through the soil. Hardpans do not soften when exposed to water. Also called caliche.
calcium-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.