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USA Laterite

I sure wasn't expecting to get a reply from Mr. Thiel about his laterite
product.  Talk about the power of this list!  Thanks to Mark Sheldon for
passing the subject on and to Mr Thiel for his in depth reply.  I'm sure he
did his homework before bring out the product.  I did enjoy the background
on the hunt for the right stuff and the fact that he actually mentioned
where the mine is(well not really but close enough).  I assumed that it
would contain iron and would never have thought differantly except for a
recent post that mentioned aluminum laterite.
     Now I'm not thought with the laerite subject in my own mind.  Let's see
how many of you I can boar with this.  First a little story of why I am
problaly interested in laterite.  First of all I've had a fish store for
over 35 years(thats another story).  I had this customer 25 years
ago(haven't see him in the last several years so hope he's OK) that for
years would bring in 100 large crypts for trade, once or twice a year.  One
year I finally asked him how he did that.  He said what he brought me was a
fraction of what he had in his 80 gal tank.  The plants were offspring from
parent plants he had gotten 30 years ago!  He said he placed mud balls in
the gravel and  used a small outside filter(a Dynaflo 410-how I remenber
that I don't know).  I do remember him saying that you can't have any air in
the tank or they'll die off. I don't remember what he said about lighting
but I don't think it was anyithing special.  Remember this was 25 years ago!
The mud balls always stuck in my mind with the thought that maybe the guy
was nuts also. I'm sure he just got the mud around his home in Southeastern
Wisconsin, so assume that his mud balls were in the laterite catagory.  His
remarkable plant growing ability stuck in my mind for all those years.  Back
then I knew of no one that could grow plants like that, and for that matter
not many can grow then like he did(or does).  So much for the story.
    Now for my further questions about laterite.  
     (1) Does laterite(similar to tropical laterite) occur in the USA? I now
feel some what confident that it does(or something close enough to be
considered similar enough to tropical laterite) except for a  post by a PhD
said that it didn't.

     (2) Does it occur under forest floors such as in Northern MN. where
heavy iron consentrations and found.  A recent post mentioned that it does
but I'm not sure.

     (3)Are they're any home test to asertain that you have iron laterite.

     (4)Why the big concern for using laterite when products like Kent plant
food(perhaps others) saying it is easier to use than laterite and just as
effective, so the adds say.

     Thanks to all who maybe still be interested in this subjuect.
  JIm Lemke
llemke at kusd_kusd.edu