How to Cite

Thorp, J., & Rockwell Smith, L. (1933). CONCERNING THE ORIGIN OF THE WHITE QUARTZ SANDS OF NORTHERN PUERTO RICO. The Journal of Agriculture of the University of Puerto Rico, 17(2), 157–170.


The origin of the large deposits of almost pure white quartz sands which occur within the area occupied by the Tertiary limestones of northern Puerto Rico have long been a source of puzzlement to geologists. The largest areas occur within a mile or so of the seacoast in association with Tertiary deposits but are unconformable with them. Many of them are found in association with the remnants of lagoons which were cut off from the sea by the San Juan formation. Some deposits are also in fairly close association with the latter formation in some places. Smaller areas occur well within the limestone hills. Examinations of limestone outcrops and of residual soils within the limestone hills indicate that a large amount of sand originally came from the solution of layers of impure limestone which formerly overlay the district. It is altogether probable that some of the sands have been blown inland from the broken up San Juan formation and later leached of their lime. There is some evidence to support the theory that some of these sands may have been left in or near their present position along the shore of former lagoons which have since been drained by a slight emergence of the coast. There is but little question but that the smaller deposits several miles inland and well within the limestone hills are the residuum left from the dissolution of the limestones. The whiteness and purity of the sands are due to the soil forming process known as podzolization (acid leaching and eluviation) which in this case has taken place largely under conditions of high rainfall and poor subdrainage and to a less extent under well drained conditions. Some of the deeper deposits which are now well drained have been more or less piled up by the winds since they were bleached. We can therefore state with reasonable assurance that the quartz sands have come from the various sources above mentioned but that they are white because of a high degree of "podzolic" leaching which has affected them since they accumulated. Millions of acres of similar soils which have been carefully studied by soil scientists in the southeastern United States have furnished the evidence for this explanation of the origin of Puerto Rico's white sand deposits.


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