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Horizons 3 - Sample Chapter

Horizons 3 - Sample Chapter

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Published by Dorothy Kerrin Ryan

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Published by: Dorothy Kerrin Ryan on Apr 16, 2012
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06/28/2014

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10
Soils ....................................................168
11
Soil Characteristics ..........................174
12
Biomes ................................................190
13
Human Interaction with Biomes ....200
Chapter
OPTION 7
Geoecology
Higher Level Only
 
168
10
Soils
By the end o this chapter students will have studied:
z
The dierent components o soil
z
A soil prole
z
The characteristics that are used to dierentiate soil types
SYLLABUS LINK
Soils develop rom theweathering o rocks in situ and rom redepositeweathered material.
Introduction
Soil is the thin layer of 
loose weathered and eroded material
thatcovers the Earth’s surface. It is one of the Earth’s most important
natural resources.
Soil is made up of both
organic and inorganicmaterials. Climate
is one of the most important factors in theformation of soil.
General composition o all soil types
All soils are made of the following components but in differentamounts. This gives rise to many different soil types around the world.
Mineral matter
Mineral matter is the
broken-down material of the parent rock
and isthe
largest component
of most soil types. The parent rock was brokendown into
mineral matter by denudation.
The mineral matter couldhave been either derived from the area or transported by rivers, sea orice. Some minerals are soluble. These are very important as they
helpnourish plants
growing in the area.
Organic matter
This was once the
living material
of the plant, such as leaves and
owers, as well as the remains of animals. Dead plant material is
known as plant litter. As the material decays it is
broken down
bybacteria into a thick, black, sticky substance called
humus.
Humus is
rich in nutrients
and is
essential for plant growth.
It also gives soils a
dark brown appearance
and because of its sticky nature
helps to bindsoil particles
and
hold moisture.
Living organisms
Living organisms can be anything from
micro-organisms,
such asbacteria and fungi, to earthworms. They live in the soil and help withthe
breakdown of organic matter, aerating
and
mixing the soil.
INTERESTING FACTS
It takes approximately 400years to create 1 cm o soil.
 
 
GEoTERmS
•
Parent rock
is the bedrocko the area.
•
Denudation
is thecollective name orweathering and erosion.
i
GEoTERmS
Aeration
is the introductiono air.
i
Higher Level Only
 
Soils
 
Chapter 10
169
Water
Water is essential in the soil to
help with plant growth.
It is foundin the pore spaces in the soil. Water
helps to dissolve minerals
sothat plants can take them in through their roots.
Air
Air is also found in the pore spaces between the soil particles. It
supplies oxygen and nitrogen,
essential for plant growth.
Soil profle
A soil prole is a vertical section cut through the soil showing the
various layers that are present. There are normally
three layers,or horizons,
to a soil prole.
A horizon
The A horizon is the top layer of the soil and is also called
topsoil.
It is
dark brown
in colour due to the
high humuscontent.
It is also the layer where most of the
biological activity
 takes place.
B horizon
The B horizon is located just below the topsoil and is also called the
subsoil.
It is
lighter in colour
than the A horizon due to a
lack of humus content.
This is the layerin which leached materials accumulate and where an impermeable layer called a
hardpan
is created.
C horizon
The C horizon is the bottom layer
of the soil prole and contains the
parent rock.
Soil characteristics
All of the following soil characteristicshave a huge impact on the fertility of soils.
Texture
Texture is the
feel of the soil,
whether
it is coarse or ne. This is dependent
on the amount of clay, sand and siltparticles in the soil. All these particlesare different sizes and so the amountof water they absorb and nutrients theyretain differs.
Fig 10.1
The main components o soil
25% water25% air5%organicmatter45% mineral
Fig 10.2
Soil prole
A horizon (topsoil)B horizon (subsoil)C horizon (parent rock)Plant litter
ABC
      M    e     t    r    e    s
0
0.51.0
GEoTERmS
•
Pore spaces
are the spacesbetween the mineral particles inthe soil.
•
Leaching
is the washing away o the soil’s nutrients by rainall.
i

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