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Summary

Andosol formation involves the rapid, abundant and in situ formation of non-crystalline materials from tephra deposits. A large amount of humus complexed with Al also accumulates in the A horizons. As these materials are rich in Al or Fe compared to the parent tephra, the concentrations of the major and minor elements change significantly during Andosol formation. The objectives of this study were to examine how the rock type of the tephra and its weight loss during the formation process affect the changes in the element concentrations of Andosols. A total of 95 samples with different rock types from 18 pedons of Andosols in Japan were used to determine the total concentrations of 54 elements. Principal component analysis suggested that the degree of weathering and the rock types of parent tephra are the important factors in the variation of the element concentrations in Andosols. Three rock types, dacitic, andesitic and basaltic-andesitic, were identified from the V and Zn contents of ferromagnetic minerals separated from the Andosol samples. Basaltic Andosols were identified from the abundant coloured volcanic glass and olivine in the sand fraction. Regarding concentrations of 41 elements, at least one group based on rock type was significantly different from one to three other groups at the P= 0.05 level. The content of oxalate-extractable Si (Sio), Al (Alo) and Fe (Feo) was used as an index to show the extent of Andosol development. Relatively strong correlations between the element concentrations and Sio, Alo and Feo as well as other weathering indices were found in the andesitic samples. Among these elements, at least 27 (Be, Al, Ti, Fe, Y, Zr, Nb, La, Ce, Pr, Nd, Sm, Eu, Gd, Tb, Dy, Ho, Er, Tm, Yb, Lu, Hf, Ta, Tl, Pb, Th and U) were enriched in the Andosols and the increases in these concentrations were related to total weight loss due to soil formation processes.