The southwestern region of Australia contains the Yilgarn Craton that has been exposed to subaerial weathering since mid-Proterozoic. The gently undulating landscape experienced lateritic weathering so that today variably dissected, deep in situ isovolumetrically weathered regolith is widespread. Imposition of a more and climate since the Miocene with the cessation of effective external drainage has resulted in substantial geochemical modification of the highly porous regolith. This vast pore volume acts as a reservoir for complex solutions that may be highly saline, extremely acid to alkaline and reducing. Diverse precipitates have formed in the regolith including widespread occurrence of silcrete, calcrete, dolocrete, ferficrete and gypcrete together with localised occurrences of pyrite, alunite, jarosite, barite, halite and other salts. Clearing of bush land for agriculture in the 20th century increased recharge so that rising chemically active groundwaters, are damaging farmland and infrastructure throughout the region. (C) 2003 Academie des sciences. Published by Elsevier SAS. All fights reserved.