When Does Rock Become Soil?

ClORPT spells recipe for soil formation

Article ID: 679178

Released: 7-Aug-2017 5:05 PM EDT

Source Newsroom: Soil Science Society of America (SSSA)

  • Credit: SVFisk

    The sandstone, top layer, is weathered by climate, organisms and time. Lichen - a mixture of fungi and bacteria - help break the rock down. Eventually plants can grow in the space, adding organic matter as they grow and die.

Newswise — Aug. 15, 2017 –  Nature’s way of forming soil takes a great deal of patience. The Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) August 15 Soils Matter blog post explains the complex process of soils forming and maturing.

“Rock starts becoming soil the moment it is exposed to the environment,” says soil scientist Barbara-Ann G. Lewis. “But it’s a long transformation process from exposed rock to a mature soil. Depending on the nature of the rock and other factors in its surroundings, that time period can range between tens to tens of thousands of years!”

Soil scientists look at five major factors in the soil-forming process. These are climate (Cl), organisms (O), relief (R) or topography and drainage of the land, the rock or other parent (P) material that will become the soil, and how much time (T) has gone by.  These can be combined into a “recipe” for soil known as ClORPT.

“The processes of weathering and soil formation go on, not only on the surface, but also below the surface within the soil itself,” Lewis comments. “Human survival depends on it.”

To read the entire blog post, visit https://soilsmatter.wordpress.com/2017/08/15/when-does-rock-become-soil/.

Follow SSSA on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SSSA.soils, Twitter at SSSA_Soils. SSSA has soils information on www.soils.org/discover-soils, for teachers at www.soils4teachers.org, and for students through 12th grade, www.soils4kids.org.

The Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) is a progressive international scientific society that fosters the transfer of knowledge and practices to sustain global soils. Based in Madison, WI, and founded in 1936, SSSA is the professional home for 6,000+ members and 1,000+ certified professionals dedicated to advancing the field of soil science. The Society provides information about soils in relation to crop production, environmental quality, ecosystem sustainability, bioremediation, waste management, recycling, and wise land use.


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