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Caliche (form of sodium nitrate)
An exposed layer of chalk overlain with caliche


From Spanish, from Latin calx (pebble); compare chalk.



caliche (countable and uncountable, plural caliches)

  1. (mineralogy) A crude form of sodium nitrate from South America; used as a fertilizer.
  2. A layer of hard clay subsoil or sedimentary rock; hardpan.
    • 1929, US Bureau of Chemistry and Soils, Soil Survey of Potter County, Texas, page 44,
      According to local well drillers, in wells drilled on the high plains a few hundred feet back from the caliche escarpment or in other locations on the high plains in this area no hard caliche or white layer, such as would characterize a soft layer of high lime-carbonate content, is generally reached at a depth corresponding to the elevation of the caliche escarpment.
    • 1985, Julie Behrend Weinberg, Growing Food In the High Desert Country, page 17,
      Having a layer of caliche at depths of 16 inches and less really puts a damper on the garden site. The caliche does not allow roots to penetrate it (tree roots often take 10 years to break through a caliche layer) nor does this mineral allow water to drain.
    • 2011, Hüseyin Yalçin, Ömer Bozkaya, Chapter 7: Sepiolite-Palygorskite Occurrences in Turkey, Arieh Singer, Emilio Galan (editors), Developments in Palygorskite-Sepiolite Research, page 186,
      Caliche in various forms, namely powdery, nodule, tube, fracture-infill, laminar crust, hard laminated crust (hardpan) and pisolitic crust, is widespread in the Mersin area in southern Turkey (Eren et al., 2008; Kadir and Eren, 2008).




caliche m (plural caliches)

  1. saltpeter
  2. salitre