Q:

What is the difference between soil and regolith?

A:

Quick Answer

While regolith is a layer of loose, uncompacted dirt, dust and rocks sitting on top of bedrock, soil is the portion of the regolith that is able to support plant life. Soil contains organic matter, liquids and minerals, while most of the other layers of the regolith do not.

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Full Answer

Regolith appears not only on Earth but also on the Moon, Mars and Saturn's moon Titan. Soil, however, has only been found on Earth, the only one of those bodies to support plant life. The regolith on Earth also contains alluvium, weatherized rocks, volcanic lava and ash, clay, groundwater and salt. The word "regolith" comes from the Greek for "blanket rock," and indeed the regolith is a version of rock that blankets the earth.

Typically, people refer to dirt that contains organic material as soil, while referring to other elements of the regolith as dirt, dust, gravel or sand. There is no uniformity to the dispersion of soil across the Earth. It can be completely absent, as on a sandy beach or exposed bedrock, or it can cover the Earth's surface at a depth of 30 or more feet. Regolith is created from bedrock through many natural means, including weathering, exposure to water or chemicals that break down the rock, thermal expansion or destruction of bedrock by the intrusion of plant roots.

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    What is the definition of "soil colloid"?

    A:

    Soil colloids are extremely small particles of soil with particle sizes of 2 micrometers in diameter or smaller suspended in a soil with larger particles. Soil colloids are typically found in clay or humus soils.

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    What is the soil profile for the chaparral biome?

    A:

    Chaparral soil is typically dry and rich in iron oxides that give it a cinnamon or chestnut color. It contains little clay and lacks organic material.

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    What is soil pollution?

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    Soil pollution occurs when hazardous solid or liquid contaminates mix with naturally occurring soil. These contaminates attach physically or chemically to the soil. Pollution that does not attach to the soil becomes trapped in spaces between particles of soil.

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    What causes soil to becom acidic?

    A:

    There are four principal contributors to acidic soil: rainfall and leaching, the decomposition of organic materials, the introduction of high-acidity materials into the soil and the harvest of abundantly yielding crops. The more time that passes, the more likely a soil becomes acidic and the less easily plants grow. One way the acidity of soil can be neutralized is to add lime to the soil.

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