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

Related Questions

  • Q:

    What is the difference between sand and silt?

    A:

    The primary difference between sand and silt is the particle size. Sand is composed of large particles, making it excessively coarse. Silt is made of much smaller particles and is slippery to the touch.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What is the sieve analysis procedure?

    A:

    A sieve analysis procedure is a test used to determine the different grain and particle size distribution of a given material. Various sized sieves are used, normally starting at 80 mm, to pass the aggregate through to determine the different sizes. A scale or balance is also used to weigh the sample due to the weight of the material being a large factor in practical application as well.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What is soil made from?

    A:

    According to Boundless, soil is a mix of varying amounts of inorganic matter, organic matter, water and air. The components in soil provide nutrients for plant uptake and can fluctuate on a daily basis, depending on water supply, cultivation practices and soil type.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What is the soil type for a coral reef?

    A:

    According to the non-profit project Coral Science, coral reefs are not lodged in soil. The rocky substance in which they are fixed is made by the corals themselves. They live in colonies made of many polyps that build skeletons from the underside of their skin.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore