Q:

How does soil form?

A:

Quick Answer

Soil forms from a parent material deposited at the surface of the Earth, such as weathered bedrock or small materials carried by blowing winds, moving glaciers and flooding rivers. The parent material transforms or changes into soil over time. The major factors that affect soil formation are parent material, climate, landscape, living organisms and time.

Know More
How does soil form?
Credit: Nikolaj Schouboe E+ Getty Images

Full Answer

Soil is made of layers, which are sometimes termed horizons. When put together, these layers form a soil profile. Soil is dynamic, and it gradually looks different from its parent material as it ages. It comprises various materials, such as water, air, minerals, organisms and organic matter. These components constantly change. As time passes, some of these components are lost, and new ones are added. Some also transform into other forms, and some others move into different layers within the soil.

Parent material is the most significant factor that affects soil texture. The parent material of most soils is either sediment or solid rock. Climate, which encompasses temperature, rainfall and snow, plays an important role in breaking down rocks and determining the type of soil. Landscape significantly influences the thickness and development of soil. Steep slopes like hillsides often have thin soil because the rain washes down the soil. Animals, vegetation and fauna work together to develop soil structure. Humans have also had a considerable influence on soil formation through farming and other land activities. Lastly, soil needs plenty of time to form. Decades are needed to develop only a centimeter of soil in soft sediments.

Learn more about Soil

Related Questions

  • Q:

    What is pore space in soil?

    A:

    Pore space in soil is the volume of space that can be filled with water or air. A large pore space is normally filled with air while smaller pore spaces are primarily filled with water.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What is clay soil made of?

    A:

    Clay soil is soil that is comprised of mostly clay. When clay soil is 50 percent or more clay, it is defined as heavy clay.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    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.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    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.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore