You are on page 1of 113

Principles of Soil Science

(ASS 106)

for Under Graduate Students (International Agriculture Prog.) Fac. of Agric., Cairo Univ.

Principles of Soil Science
By • Prof. Dr. Mohamed Desouky

Prof. of Soil Chemistry Soil Sciences Dept., Fac., of agric., Cairo Univ.

Course Objectives
• • • • • Identify the nature, origin and functions of soils. Describe the soil texture, structure, Porosity and color. Define the soil CEC and pH. Explain the concept of soil fertility. Define soil water content, classification, potential and variability. • Describe elementary aspects of soil formation. • Name different horizons in soil profile. • Identify the soil orders according to USA soil classification system.

Course Contents

Module – 1 : Soil Genesis - Introduction: What is soil- Ecological functions of soil
- Major components of soil - Rocks and Minerals - Soil forming processes - Soil forming factors - Soil Development and profile

• Module – 2: Soil Physics: - Physical Properties of Soil: - Soil texture
- Soil structure - Soil porosity - Soil color - Soil water - Soil air

Module – 3: Soil Mineralogy, Chemistry and Fertility - Structure of clay minerals - Cation exchange capacity (CEC) - Soil pH - Nutrient availability and fertilizers

Module – 4: Soil Survey and classification - Soil classification - Soli Survey

Module 1

Soil Genesis


What is Soil?
-Soil is one of the three major natural resources, alongside air and water. -It is one of the marvelous products of nature and without it there would be no life. -Soil is a resource on which we depend in many ways. -Soil does not look the same from place to place.

Soil Definition
• Defining soil is a difficult task due to : • 1- There are so many people who work with soil in its many functions. • 2 - Soil is a medium that we use for various functions.
– In agriculture, for growing plants. – In engineering, for supporting structures.

Soil Definition
• Soil is the decomposed thin surface layer of lithosphere (Earth crust) consists of mineral and organic constituents formed as the result of reaction between lithosphere and each of hydrosphere, atmosphere (troposphere) and biosphere, and suitable for plant growth.







Interactions Between Different Spheres To Form Soil

- Explanation: - Soil, therefore, is a loose mass of broken and chemically weathered rock mixed with organic matter (Humus). - Humus is partially decomposed organic matter and is most abundant in topsoil. - Soil is a mixture of mineral and organic constituents that are in solid, gaseous and aqueous states.

Soil Profile

Darkened topsoil and reddish subsoil layers are typical in some regions.

Soil Components

Soil consists of different Phases

Solid Phase: Inorganic and

Liquid Phase (soil solution) Gaseous Phase (soil air) Biological Phase: Soil
flora and fauna

Biological Phase: Each soil has a distinctive flora as well as fauna of bacteria, fungi, algae, protozoa, nematodes etc.

Soil Components
• For explanation: the soil solid particles packed loosely forming a soil structure filled with pore spaces. These pores contain soil solution (liquid) and air (gas). Accordingly, soil is often treated as a three state system.

Soil is made up of 4 main components:
• A – Mineral materials: rocks and minerals. • B - Organic matter: residues of plants and animals live in soil. • C- Soil solution. • D – Soil air.

The main components of soil

Soil Components

A – Mineral Materials (Rocks and Minerals)

I - Chemical Composition of Lithosphere
• Earth Crust Consists of 92 Elements. They called (Lithophile elements) • These elements combined together to from minerals (e.g., Silicate minerals) • Only eight elements out of the lithophile group represent 99% of the mass of the earth crust (O, Si, AL, Fe, Ca, Na, K, Mg). All other elements represent only 1% of the mass of earth crust. • Only three out of the eight elements (O, Si and Al) represent about 83% of the mass of earth crust. These elements called the skeleton elements.

Percentages of the Eight Most Common Elements in the Earth's Crust by Weight
50.0% 40.0% 30.0% 20.0% 10.0% 0.0% O Si Al Fe Ca Na K Mg 8.1% 5.0% 3.6% 2.8% 2.6% 2.1% 46.6% 27.7%

Soil Lithosphere 49 33 7 4 1 1 1 1 2 0.10 47 27 9 5 4 3 3 2 0.01 0.02

Ele O Si Al Fe Ca K Na Mg C N

Chemical composition of lithosphere vs. Soil

Lower in soil due to leaching Higher in soil due to organic matter

II - Mineral Composition of Lithosphere

(Rocks and Minerals)

Definition: rock could be defined as a naturally occurring solid substance or aggregate of minerals and/or mineraloids. The Earth's outer solid layer (lithosphere) is made of rocks. In general rocks are of three types, namely, igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic. These three types of rocks exist as the effects of three basic geological processes.

1 - Igneous Rocks
• Igneous rocks are crystalline solids which form directly from the cooling of magma. The earth is made of igneous rock - at least at the surface where our planet is exposed to the coldness of space. • Igneous rocks are given names based upon two things: • 1- composition (what they are made of) and, 2- texture (how big the crystals are). • Igneous rocks are divided into two main categories: 1- plutonic rock (intrusive rocks) result when magma cools and crystallizes slowly within the Earth's crust (example granite), • 2 - volcanic rock (extrusive rocks) result from magma reaching the surface either as lava or fragmental ejects (examples pumice and basalt).



2 - Sedimentary Rocks
• Sedimentary rocks are called secondary, because they are often the result of the accumulation of small pieces broken off of pre-existing rocks. In most places on the surface, the igneous rocks which make up the majority of the crust are covered by a thin veneer of loose sediment. These sediments get compacted and cemented together forming a sedimentary rock. The rock is made as layers of this debris.

There are three main types of sedimentary rocks
• Mechanical sedimentary rocks (Clastic ): It is an accumulations of little pieces of broken up rock which have piled up and been "lithified" by compaction and cementation. (Example: sandstone, conglomerate, mudstones and shale) • Chemical sedimentary rocks (evaporites): These rocks form when standing water evaporates, leaving dissolved minerals behind. These are very common in arid lands, where seasonal "playa lakes" occur in closed depressions (Example: limestone and dolomite) • Organic deposition rocks: any accumulation of sedimentary debris caused by organic processes. Many animals use calcium for shells, bones, and teeth. These bits of calcium can pile up on the seafloor and accumulate into a thick enough layer to form an "org. deposition rock. (Example: organic lime stone, Phosphatic rocks and coal)


Sedimentary rock

3 -Metamorphic Rocks
• The metamorphic gets their name from "meta" (change) and "morph" (form). Any rock can become a metamorphic rock. • Metmorphic rocks are formed by subjecting of any rock to different temperature and pressure conditions than those in which the original rock was formed. These temperatures and pressures are always higher than those at the Earth's surface and must be sufficiently high so as to change the original minerals into other mineral types or else into other forms of the same minerals (e.g. by recrystallisation). Common metamorphic rocks include slate, schist, gneiss, and marble.

Metamorphic rocks


• Definition: Mineral is a naturally occurring solid substance that has a definte chemical composition, a specific crystalline structure and specific physical properties. • Traditional definitions excluded organically derived material. • By comparison, a rock is an aggregate of minerals and/or mineraloids and does not have a specific chemical composition. • Minerals range in composition from pure element and simple salt to very complex silicates with thousands of known forms. The study of minerals is called mineralogy.

Classification of minerals

Many methods are used to classify minerals including: I - Chemical Classification: Based on chemical composition of mineral, in which the mineral are

categorized according to anion group.
II - Classification according to origin (primary and secondary)

Chemical Classification of Principal Minerals based on chemical composition
Type Elemental Sulfides Oxides & Hydroxides Halides Sulphate Phosphate Silicates Carbonate Examples Gold (Au) , Copper (Cu), Iron (Fe), Sulfur (S) Galena (PbS), Hematite (Fe2O3), Halite (NaCl), Anhydrite (CaSO4), Apatite {Ca5F(PO4)3} Quartz (SiO2), Orthoclase (KAlSi3O8) Pyrite (FeS2) Brucite {Mg(OH)2} Flurite (CaF2) Gypsum (CaSO4.2H2O)

Calcite {CaCO3}, Dolomite (Ca, Mg) (CO3)2

Classification of Principal Minerals Based on Origin (Primary and secondary Minerals)

Primary Minerals
Quartz Feldspars Mica Secondary Clay Minerals Calcite SiO2 Orthoclase (KAlSi3O8) , Muscovite KAl3Si3O10(OH)2

Secondary Minerals
Kolinite {Al2Si2O5(OH)4} Montmorillonite {X(Al,Mg)4Si8O20(OH)4} CaCO3


(Ca,Mg) (CO3)2
CaSO4. 2H2O

Differences between minerals and rocks
• A mineral is a naturally occurring solid with a definite chemical composition and a specific crystalline structure. • A rock is an aggregate of one or more minerals. (A rock may also include organic remains and mineraloids.) • Some rocks are predominantly composed of just one mineral. For example, limestone is a sedimentary rock composed almost entirely of the mineral calcite. • Other rocks contain many minerals, and the specific minerals in a rock can vary widely.

The vast majority of the rocks of the Earth’s crust consist of quartz, feldspar, mica, chlorite, kaolon, calcite, epidote, olivin, augite, hornblend, magnetite, hematite, limonite, and a few other minerals.




B - Organic matter

B - Organic matter
• Organic matter in soil implies exudates and residues of all organisms live in and/or on soil. After death of living organisms and plants, their residues begin to decay. • Soils often have varying degrees of organic compounds in different states of decomposition. • The freshly organic residues added to the soil attacked by microorganisms. Micro-organisms attack organic residues to gain food and energy required to their biological activities. As a result of micro-organisms attack, organic residues transform to intermediate components, then to final simple products. • Humus is the final stable product of the decomposition of organic residues. Among all living organisms exist either on the surface or subsurface the soil, green plants are the most dominant component of soil organic colloid.

• Humus refers to organic matter that has decomposed to a point where it is resistant to further breakdown or alteration. • In soil, humus usually exists combined with mineral part of soil forming organo-mineral complex. • humus, as a reserve of macro and micro-nutrients, is a vital component affecting soil fertility. • Humus also absorbs water acting as a moisture reserve that plants can utilize. • It also increases formation of stable soil aggregates providing pore spaces. • Many soils, including desert and rocky-gravel soils, have no or little organic matter. Others, have high contents of organic matter. • Soils that contain contents of organic matter higher than 18% called organic soil such as peat (histosols).

C- Soil solution

Soil solution
• All water exists in soil called liquid phase. Also, the terms of soil moisture and soil solution named as liquid phase. • Water dissolves a range of molecules and ions. Soil solution contains soluble materials which exist in forms of free hydrated ions, organic and inorganic substances, plant nutrients such as nitrate, ammonium, potassium, phosphate, sulfate, calcium, and micronutrients such as zinc, iron and copper, as well as gases in the dissolved state. • The most common cations exist in soil solution are Ca2+, Mg2+, Na+, K+, NH4+, whereas the most common anions are HCO3-, Cl-, SO4= and NO3-. • respect concentration of sodium exist in solutions of arid soils that greatly impact plant growth. Soil pH can affect the type and amount of anions and cations that soil solutions contain. • Very important chemical reactions take place in the soil solution. • Plants and microorganisms mainly draw their necessary nutrients from soil solution.

D - Soil air

D - Soil air
• Air exists in the spaces (pores) found between soil aggregates and solid particles. All void volume of the soil can be occupied by either air or water: The amount of air in soil is thus inversely related to the amount of water present. • Composition of soil air is similar to that in the atmosphere with the exception of oxygen, carbon dioxide and water vapor. • However, in the soil air, oxygen usually is replaced by carbon dioxide. Oxygen is used by plant roots and soil microbes during respiration, and carbon dioxide is released. Thus, in the soil, oxygen levels are generally less than atmospheric levels and the carbon dioxide levels are generally greater than atmospheric levels. • The soil air also contains water vapor and, in many cases, is at 100% relative humidity.

Formation of Soil (Rock to Soil)

The first step in soil formation happens when mineral material from rocks and organic matter from plants and animals are combined together. Combination of mineral and organic matter gives soil its unique properties. Rocks are transformed into soil by physical and chemical changes that occur at the Earth's surface. Over time both the mineral material and organic matter are transformed into new materials; these are then moved through the soil by percolating water, so that the more soluble compounds are finally lost completely. Nature of these inputs, transformations, movements and losses determine what type of soil will form. Naturally occurring physical and chemical forces cause rock weathering. The altered rock material may accumulate over the parent rock, or it may be washed or blown to other sites. Soil formation begins at once on the loose rock material (regolith), doesn’t matter whether it formed in place or was transported.


Weathering is scientific term for the break-up of rocks. This term is used because climate, and the prevailing weather, is the main factor that eventually transforms rock to soil. Weathering defines the set of physical, chemical and biological processes which decay and break rock down into smaller pieces.

Weathering is disintegration and decomposition of rock at or near the surface of the earth. It affects the rocks in place and no transport is involved. This distinguishes weathering from erosion.

Weathering Processes
- Physical Weathering - Chemical Weathering - Biological weathering (Biochemical weathering
Weathering processes can act independently and in concert as well as at different scales of observation

1 –Physical Weathering

Physical Weathering

• Physical weathering is the breakdown of rock material into smaller and smaller pieces with no change in the chemical composition of the weathered material. • Why do rock break up? Because it formed under conditions of temperature higher than that of earth’s surface. Therefore, rocks materials are no longer stable when they are exposed to surface conditions. • Factors of physical weathering: Expansion and Contraction - the thermal heating and cooling of rocks causing expansion and contraction. When rocks composed of several different minerals are exposed to heat they experience different rates of expansion. • Frost Action - Water can penetrate rocks along small cracks. When water freezes, its volume expands by 10%. The force exerted by expanding ice is enough to break open cracks. This form of weathering is called 'frost shattering'. In addition, when rocks exposed to water, different minerals often have different rates of swelling and shrinkage; this can initiate stresses within the rock that eventually cause it to fracture.

By widening existing cracks, more of the rock surface is exposed to the elements. This accelerates the weathering process and hastens the disintegration of the rock. Exfoliation - process in which curved plates of rock are stripped from a larger rock mass.
Abrasion - physical grinding of rock fragments. Other types - Cracking of rocks by plant roots and burrowing animals.

2 - Chemical Weathering

2- Chemical Weathering
Chemical Weathering Reactions lead to an alteration in mineral and chemical composition of parent material, disappear of low resistance mineral, and formation of new minerals (secondary clay minerals)

Water molecule plays an important role in chemical weathering through different reactions.

Chemical Weathering

Chemistry of Weathering
Processes of chemical weathering

1- Dissolution
2- Hydration

3- Hydrolysis
4- Carbonation 5- Oxidation-Reduction

1 - Dissolution

In this process minerals simply dissolve in water. A few minerals such as Halite (table salt) and fluorite are completely soluble in water. Such these minerals dissolve and washed away in solution.

1- Dissolution
In this process minerals of ionic bonds such as Halite and Fluorite simply dissolve in water and washed away in solution.

Water is a good solvent for minerals containing ionic bonds such as Halite mineral : NaCl(s) ------------> Na(aq) + Cl(aq)
Solutes moves to depressions to form Oceans and Seas

2 – Hydration: during hydration minerals absorb

water, but unlike hydrolysis there is no ion formation, the water molecule remains intact. When a mineral undergoes hydration its physical and chemical properties can be altered. think about how physical characteristics are altered as it absorbs water. When some minerals become hydrated they can also become weakened physically.

2- Hydration
It is coordination between molecules of mineral and water:
CaSO4 + 2 H2O ---------> CaSO4. 2 H2O Anhydrite
Sparingly soluble
High Density

Relatively soluble
low density



3- Hydrolysis: This is the most common form of chemical weathering. It occurs when water molecules desperate into two charged particles, H+ (a hydrogen ion) and OH-. Hydrogen and hydroxyl ions attack the bonds that hold minerals together. Hydrolysis not only cause rock disintegration but also changes the chemical nature of the mineral. Hydrolysis is very important process in soil.

3- Hydrolysis
Small portion of water molecules dissociate to H+ and OH- ions (10^-7 mole for each) :

H2O <------------> H+ + OHHydrolysis is the reaction of a mineral with dissociated H+ and OH- ions:

K Al Si3O8 + HOH --------> H Al Si3O8+ KOH
Orthoclase High Density Hard H-Clay Low Density Soft

4 - Carbonation This is an accelerated form of hydrolysis, which caused by biological activity within the soil. When CO2 comes into contact with water, a proportion of it dissolves to form carbonic acid. CO2 is derived from root respiration and organic decomposition. All acids are rich sources of hydrogen ions; carbonation therefore enhances hydrolysis.

4- Carbonation
Carbon dioxide gas dissolves in water forming carbonic acid:
H2O + CO2 <–> H+ + HCO3- <–> H2CO3 Carbonic acid increase the solubility of minerals such as calcite:

CaCO3 + H2CO3 -------> Ca(HCO3)2
Calcite Ca-bicarbonate

5 - Oxidation and reduction When exposed to the atmosphere some minerals undergo chemical changes; some are 'oxidized' and others are 'reduced'. In its simplest form oxidation can be regarded as a mineral's tendency to take up oxygen, while reduction is its ability to lose oxygen. However, this narrow definition has been expanded so that it also refers loss or gain of electrons. Although chemial process can become quite complicated, the main point is that mineral's oxidation state can weaken it.

5 - Oxidation- Reduction Reactions
• Oxid- Red Reactions is transfer of electron between reagents • OX + e- → Red • Red → OX + e• Fe2+ → Fe3+ + e-

Example: Weathering of Pyrite Mineral and its transformation to hematite mineral: • First Step: Transformation from sulfide to sulfate 2 FeS2 + 7O2 + 2H2O = Fe2+ + 4SO42- + 4 H+

• Second Step: Oxidation of Ferrous to Ferric 4 Fe2+ + O2 + 4H+ = 4Fe3+ + 2H2O ..............................................................................
4FeS2 + 15O2 + 14H2O = 4Fe(OH)3 + 8 H2SO4

Factors which affect the rate of chemical weathering are:
1 - Particle size – the smaller the particle size, the greater the surface area and hence the more rapid the weathering 2 – Temperature and precipitation - chemical weathering occurs more rapidly under conditions of high temperature and precipitation (rainfall). In general, the rate of chemical weathering reactions doubles with every 10 °C increase in temperature.

3 - Biological Weathering

The word „bio‟ means life. Thus biotic weathering is any type of weathering that is caused by living organisms. Most often the responsible of biotic weathering is plant roots. These roots can extend downward, deep into rock cracks in search of water and nutrients. In the process they act as a wedge, widening and extending the cracks.

Biological weathering
Vegetative and micro-organisms play an important role in biological weathering and in soil formation. The most important exudates formed as a result of biological activity are: -CO2 -Organic acids -Chelating Agents -Enzymes These reagents play an important role in biological weathering.

Effect of CO2 and H+ released from organic acids
1 - CO2 derived from root respiration and decompostion of organic residues, dissolves in water to form carbonic acid. H2O + CO2 <–> H+ + HCO3- <–> H2CO3

2- H+ released from carbonic acid and other organic acids (oxalic-, citric-, tartaric- acids) attacks silicate minerals:
2NaAlSi3O8(Albite) + 2H2CO3 + 9CO2 -> 2Na+ +2HCO3- + 4H4SiO4 + Al2Si2O5(OH)4
(Clay mineral “Kaolinite”)

- These reactions are important in weathering and decomposition of rocks and minerals.

Effect of chelating agents produced through biotic activity
• Formation of complexes and chelates with metal cations • Large molecules (e.g., organic molecules) have the ability to make complexes and chelates with metal cations. • Organic molecules have functional groups (e.g., R-OH, R-NH2, RSH). These groups have the ability donate lone pair of electrons to metal cation (e.g., Zn, Cu,..) form a complex. • If the molecule has more than one functional group (3 or more), each one donate lone pair of electron to metal cation and form a product “called” chelate compound • This reaction remove the metal cation from minerals and rocks leaving voids. These voids lead to decomposition of rocks and minerals.

Chelation and Complexation
Chelating agents like EDTA can chelate metals (Fe, Mn, Zn,…) exist in structure of primary minerals and rocks


Fe chelated with EDTA


Sediments are the by-product of weathering. Sediments includes, altered materials in smaller size, and some new minerals. Products of Weathering: the major products of weathering are a blanket of loose, decayed rock debris, known as regolith, and rock bodies modified into spherical shapes.

Soluble Salts of Na, K Ca and Mg Insoluble

Primary Minerals
Resistant QUARTZ Secondary Minerals Clay Minerals




Lithos phere

Rock weathering


Rock weathering

Physical Chemical


Mineral Stability
Minerals crystallize from a melt at different temperatures during the migration and emplacement of the magma. Those crystallize at higher temperatures will be the least stable at the surface. It is obvious that quartz is the most stable mineral in the weathering environment, and will be a dominant constituent of sediments and sedimentary rocks.

Mineral stability series

Factors of Soil Formation

Factors of Soil Formation
- Soil-forming factors are: climate, parent material, topography, living organisms and time. - So, these factors are expressed in a similar way to a mathematical equation; Soil formation = climate, parent material, topography, living organisms (plants and animals), time. - These five factors determine the nature of the initial inputs, how are transformed and how quickly they are moved and lost from the soil. - Because soils form under a range of conditions, it is not surprising so many different soil types are found throughout the world.

Weathering produces soils. Soils may or may not remain in place:
- Soil could be divided to two types:

1-Residual soil (sedentary soil): forms in place by the weathering of bedrock. has not been transported.
2 -Transported soil: material breaks down in one area and is deposited as soil in another area; there's movement, via some type of geological process (e.g. river, wind, etc.) NOTE: The Rio Grande Valley and Soils of Nile river and its delta are transported soil. - Soil may be a combination of residual and transported material.

1 - Parent Material
Common types of soil parent materials are:
1. Residuum- soils formed in residuum are soils that form in mineral strata in place. 2. Glacial till- soils formed in residual minerals left behind by glaciers. 3. Alluvium- (Alluvial soil): soils from sediments that were deposited by rivers and streams in valleys throughout the world. Soils of Nile valley and Delta. 4. Colluvium- soils formed in deposits that resulted from mass movement due to gravity, not water. (Aeolian soil) 5. Marine- soils formed in the residues of ancient sea beds (now dry land) 6. Lacustrine- soils formed in residues of ancient lakes (now dry land).

- Soils formed from gabbro and basalt (Black and dark gray crystalline rocks) are clayey, and fertile. - Soils formed on sandstone are sandy. - Those on shale are clayey. - Soils formed on limestone are clayey. - Volcanic ash, most of it develops into high-quality soil for crop production. -Organic soil: According to the definition used in Soil Taxonomy, organic soils must have organic carbon >18%. Organic Soil contains high amounts of OM could be >80%, versus low mineral content. Organic soil are derived in environment allow good growth of plants and slowly decomposition of dead residues. Usually formed in depressions of stagnant water (swamps, marshes, moos, bogs) in which anaerobic is favored.

2 - Climate
- Every place on earth has climate that can be described on the basis of its many components. The two components that most strongly influence soil formation are precipitation (rainfall) and temperature.
- It is no wonder that each climatic zone has a characteristic pattern of soils. climate is the most important factor influencing weathering. - Precipitation influences the conversion of parent material into soil in many ways. The greater the rainfall amount, the more rapid the rate of weathering and leaching.

-Temperature has a marked influence on the rate of weathering. As a rule: Every 10-degree rise in temperature, the rate of chemical reactions increases by a factor of two to three. - The combined influence of precipitation and temperature is probably as important as either one of them individually. - Intense chemical weathering occurs in hot humid regions and develops thick regoliths. - Chemical weathering is minimal in deserts and polar regions. - Laterites form in humid climates where only Al2O3 (Bauxite) and Fe(OH)3 remain (the most strength weather) .

3 - Living organisms
• The soil and the organisms living on and in it, comprise an ecosystem. The active components of the soil ecosystem are the vegetation, fauna, including microorganisms (bacteria, fungi), ants, man and many other living organisms shape each small part of the soil. • Plants play important rules in both physical and chemical weathering. Plants stabilize soil profiles. Animals (including man) tend to destabilize the soil profile, increasing weathering.
• Living organisms produces humic acids that are powerful weathering agents and help speed up weathering of rock particles. • The amount of humus in the soil is a direct result of how much plant residue has been incorporated into it. • Most of the trees in the world's forests can be divided into two groups, the hardwoods with broad leaves and the softwoods (conifers) with needles. • Soils formed under conifer forests tend to be the most acidic with lower buffering capacity. • Grassland regions have the most fertile soil for agriculture.

4 - Topography
• Topography is shape and features of soil surface. • Major topographical features are easily recognized in the field (e.g. mountains, valleys, ridges, crests, sinks , plateaux, floodplains). • Topography has a significant impact on soil formation as it determines runoff of water, and its orientation affects microclimate which in turn affects vegetation. • For soil to form: The parent material needs to lie relatively undisturbed so soil horizon processes can proceed. • Water moving across the surface strips parent material away impeding soil development. • Water erosion is more effective on steeper, un-vegetated slopes. • The importance of relief is recognized by recurring sequence of soil forming on slopes in a generally undulating landscape. The term catena used to describe a sequence of contiguous soils extending from hill to top of a hill slope.

Soil catena

5 - Time
-Since the reaction rates are slow, the longer a rock unit has been exposed, the more likely to be weathered. - Time acts on soil formation in two ways: The value of a soil forming factor may change with time (e.g. climatic change, new parent material). The extent of a pedogenetic reaction depends on the time for which it has operated. - Very old soils are formed on weathered consolidated rocks (e.g., granite, basalt). - The most recent, large changes were associated with alternating glacial and interglacial periods of the Pleistocene. - One of our youngest soils are formed on alluvial or lacustrine, materials generally have not had as much time to develop as the surrounding upland soils. - Young in age are also colluvial soils, where sediment transport occurred recently.

A hypothetical soil development across time is shown.

Soil Formation Processes Four processes integral to soil formation 1 – Weathering 2 – Transformation: [chemical weathering, turnover] 3 - Transportation - Transporting usually is water. More rarely wind or glacial ice. - Translocations [secondary clay minerals, base cations] - Additions and Removal [surface or subsurface] 4 - Deposition - Occurs when energy necessary to transport particles is no longer available. Deposition due to the gentle settling of mineral grains. Can also be result of chemical precipitation due to changing conditions.

Soil Profile
• Definition: the soil profile not only refers to the top layers of soil, but also includes all the underlying layers down to the unaltered parent material on which the soil has formed. In case of sedentary soil, the profile extended to the rock of parent material. However, in case of transported soil, the profile extended to water table. • Soil profile reveals the historical development of the soil by recording the main inputs, translocations and losses. • Soil profile can be divided to few layers or horizons based on differences in color, texture, structure, …etc, . • Horizons is the distinctive layers in the soil profile. • Soil profile usually consists of at least three horizons called “master horizons”.

These horizons are not present in all soil profiles. In areas of rapid erosion, horizons of B & C may be present or C only. In some areas no soil profile will develop at all.

Mineral Composition of Soil Solid Particles (Solid phase)
Soil solid particles could be divided into two types according to their origin. These two types are; mineral particles which originated from rocks and minerals exist in the parent materials, and organic particles which originated from residues of living organisms. Soil particles varied widely in diameter and ranging from very small diameter less than 2µm like clay particles, to coarse particles which have diameters as high as 2mm (e.g., coarse sand) or higher (e.g., gravel). Large particles like coarse and fine sand mainly consist of primary minerals those exist in parent material and earth crust. On the other hand, the smaller particles like clay fraction consist of secondary clay minerals. The secondary clay minerals were not exist in the parent. They are formed during the weathering of rocks and minerals of earth crust.