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Soil
Soil, also commonly referred to as earth or dirt, is a mixture of organic matter, minerals, gases, liquids, and organisms that together support life. Some scientific definitions distinguish ''dirt'' from ''soil'' by restricting the former term specifically to displaced soil. Soil consists of a solid phase of minerals and organic matter (the soil matrix), as well as a porous phase that holds gases (the soil atmosphere) and water (the soil solution). Accordingly, soil is a three- state system of solids, liquids, and gases. Soil is a product of several factors: the influence of climate, relief (elevation, orientation, and slope of terrain), organisms, and the soil's parent materials (original minerals) interacting over time. It continually undergoes development by way of numerous physical, chemical and biological processes, which include weathering with associated erosion. Given its complexity and strong internal connectedness, soil ecologists regard soil as an ecosyste ...
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Soil Ecology
Soil ecology is the study of the interactions among soil organisms, and between biotic and abiotic aspects of the soil environment. It is particularly concerned with the cycling of nutrients, formation and stabilization of the pore structure, the spread and vitality of pathogens, and the biodiversity of this rich biological community. Overview Soil is made up of a multitude of physical, chemical, and biological entities, with many interactions occurring among them. Soil is a variable mixture of broken and weathered minerals and decaying organic matter. Together with the proper amounts of air and water, it supplies, in part, sustenance for plants as well as mechanical support. The diversity and abundance of soil life exceeds that of any other ecosystem. Plant establishment, competitiveness, and growth is governed largely by the ecology below-ground, so understanding this system is an essential component of plant sciences and terrestrial ecology. Features of the ecosystem ...
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Erosion
Erosion is the action of surface processes (such as water flow or wind) that removes soil, rock, or dissolved material from one location on the Earth's crust, and then transports it to another location where it is deposited. Erosion is distinct from weathering which involves no movement. Removal of rock or soil as clastic sediment is referred to as ''physical'' or ''mechanical'' erosion; this contrasts with ''chemical'' erosion, where soil or rock material is removed from an area by dissolution. Eroded sediment or solutes may be transported just a few millimetres, or for thousands of kilometres. Agents of erosion include rainfall; bedrock wear in rivers; coastal erosion by the sea and waves; glacial plucking, abrasion, and scour; areal flooding; wind abrasion; groundwater processes; and mass movement processes in steep landscapes like landslides and debris flows. The rates at which such processes act control how fast a surface is eroded. Typically, physical ...
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Soil Gas
Soil gases (soil atmosphere) are the gases found in the air space between soil components. The spaces between the solid soil particles, if they do not contain water, are filled with air. The primary soil gases are nitrogen, carbon dioxide and oxygen. Oxygen is critical because it allows for respiration of both plant roots and soil organisms. Other natural soil gases include nitric oxide, nitrous oxide, methane, and ammonia. Some environmental contaminants below ground produce gas which diffuses through the soil such as from landfill wastes, mining activities, and contamination by petroleum hydrocarbons which produce volatile organic compounds. Gases fill soil pores in the soil structure as water drains or is removed from a soil pore by evaporation or root absorption. The network of pores within the soil aerates, or ventilates, the soil. This aeration network becomes blocked when water enters soil pores. Not only are both soil air and soil water very dynamic parts of soil, b ...
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Paleopedological Record
{{inline citations, date=June 2013 The paleopedological record is, essentially, the fossil record of soils. The paleopedological record consists chiefly of paleosols buried by flood sediments, or preserved at geological unconformities, especially plateau escarpments or sides of river valleys. Other fossil soils occur in areas where volcanic activity has covered the ancient soils. Problems of recognition After burial, soil fossils tend to be altered by various chemical and physical processes. These include: * Decomposition of organic matter that was once present in the old soil. This hinders the recognition of vegetation that was in the soil when it was present. * Oxidation of iron from Fe2+ to Fe3+ by O2 as the former soil becomes dry and more oxygen enters the soil. * Drying out of hydrous ferric oxides to anhydrous oxides - again due to the presence of more available O2 in the dry environment. The keys to recognising fossils of various soils include: * Tubular structures tha ...
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Organic Matter
Organic matter, organic material, or natural organic matter refers to the large source of carbon-based compounds found within natural and engineered, terrestrial, and aquatic environments. It is matter composed of organic compounds that have come from the feces and remains of organisms such as plants and animals. Organic molecules can also be made by chemical reactions that do not involve life. Basic structures are created from cellulose, tannin, cutin, and lignin, along with other various proteins, lipids, and carbohydrates. Organic matter is very important in the movement of nutrients in the environment and plays a role in water retention on the surface of the planet. Formation Living organisms are composed of organic compounds. In life, they secrete or excrete organic material into their environment, shed body parts such as leaves and roots and after organisms die, their bodies are broken down by bacterial and fungal action. Larger molecules of organic matter can be formed ...
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Ecosystem
An ecosystem (or ecological system) consists of all the organisms and the physical environment with which they interact. These biotic and abiotic components are linked together through nutrient cycles and energy flows. Energy enters the system through photosynthesis and is incorporated into plant tissue. By feeding on plants and on one another, animals play an important role in the movement of matter and energy through the system. They also influence the quantity of plant and microbial biomass present. By breaking down dead organic matter, decomposers release carbon back to the atmosphere and facilitate nutrient cycling by converting nutrients stored in dead biomass back to a form that can be readily used by plants and microbes. Ecosystems are controlled by external and internal factors. External factors such as climate, parent material which forms the soil and topography, control the overall structure of an ecosystem but are not themselves influenced by the ecosys ...
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Porosity
Porosity or void fraction is a measure of the void (i.e. "empty") spaces in a material, and is a fraction of the volume of voids over the total volume, between 0 and 1, or as a percentage between 0% and 100%. Strictly speaking, some tests measure the "accessible void", the total amount of void space accessible from the surface (cf. closed-cell foam). There are many ways to test porosity in a substance or part, such as industrial CT scanning. The term porosity is used in multiple fields including pharmaceutics, ceramics, metallurgy, materials, manufacturing, petrophysics, hydrology, earth sciences, soil mechanics, and engineering. Void fraction in two-phase flow In gas-liquid two-phase flow, the void fraction is defined as the fraction of the flow-channel volume that is occupied by the gas phase or, alternatively, as the fraction of the cross-sectional area of the channel that is occupied by the gas phase. Void fraction usually varies from location to location in ...
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Weathering
Weathering is the deterioration of rocks, soils and minerals as well as wood and artificial materials through contact with water, atmospheric gases, and biological organisms. Weathering occurs '' in situ'' (on site, with little or no movement), and so is distinct from erosion, which involves the transport of rocks and minerals by agents such as water, ice, snow, wind, waves and gravity. Weathering processes are divided into ''physical'' and ''chemical weathering''. Physical weathering involves the breakdown of rocks and soils through the mechanical effects of heat, water, ice, or other agents. Chemical weathering involves the chemical reaction of water, atmospheric gases, and biologically produced chemicals with rocks and soils. Water is the principal agent behind both physical and chemical weathering, though atmospheric oxygen and carbon dioxide and the activities of biological organisms are also important. Chemical weathering by biological action is also known as biologic ...
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Bulk Density
Bulk density, also called apparent density or volumetric density, is a property of powders, granules, and other "divided" solids, especially used in reference to mineral components ( soil, gravel), chemical substances, ( pharmaceutical) ingredients, foodstuff, or any other masses of corpuscular or particulate matter (particles). Bulk density is defined as the mass of the many particles of the material divided by the total volume they occupy. The total volume includes particle volume, inter-particle void volume, and internal pore volume. Bulk density is not an intrinsic property of a material; it can change depending on how the material is handled. For example, a powder poured into a cylinder will have a particular bulk density; if the cylinder is disturbed, the powder particles will move and usually settle closer together, resulting in a higher bulk density. For this reason, the bulk density of powders is usually reported both as "freely settled" (or "poured" density) and ...
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Stagnogley
A stagnogley soil is a typically non-alluvial, non-calcareous, loamy or clayey soil with a relatively impervious, subsurface horizon. Stagnogley soils are related to the pseudogleys and are a type of gleyic soil. The name of this hygroscopic soil derives from its gley dynamics. The nutrient-poor, often heavily acidified soil is poorly aerated and is not suited to arable use on account of the poor growth performance of cultivated crops.Fritz Scheffer, Paul Schachtschabel: ''Lehrbuch der Bodenkunde.'' 15th edn., newly revised and expanded by Hans-Peter Blume. Spektrum, Heidelberg, etc., 2002, . As a shallow topsoil with a moderately stony subsoil, it is mainly used for woodland.''Stagnogley'' in: '' Microsoft Encarta'' Because of its shallow nature it is only suitable for species of trees that thrive well in these conditions, such as the English Oak. Formation This type of soil, the topsoil of which becomes bleached as a result of continual waterlogging, is often formed on sand-r ...
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Planet Earth
Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbor life. While large volumes of water can be found throughout the Solar System, only Earth sustains liquid surface water. About 71% of Earth's surface is made up of the ocean, dwarfing Earth's polar ice, lakes, and rivers. The remaining 29% of Earth's surface is land, consisting of continents and islands. Earth's surface layer is formed of several slowly moving tectonic plates, which interact to produce mountain ranges, volcanoes, and earthquakes. Earth's liquid outer core generates the magnetic field that shapes the magnetosphere of the Earth, deflecting destructive solar winds. The atmosphere of the Earth consists mostly of nitrogen and oxygen. Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere like carbon dioxide (CO2) trap a part of the energy from the Sun close to the surface. Water vapor is widely present in the atmosphere and forms clouds that cover most of the planet. More solar energy is r ...
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Parent Material
Parent material is the underlying geological material (generally bedrock or a superficial or drift deposit) in which soil horizons form. Soils typically inherit a great deal of structure and minerals from their parent material, and, as such, are often classified based upon their contents of consolidated or unconsolidated mineral material that has undergone some degree of physical or chemical weathering and the mode by which the materials were most recently transported. Consolidated Parent materials that are predominantly composed of consolidated rock are termed residual parent material. The consolidated rocks consist of igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rock, etc. Residual Soil developed in residual parent material is that which forms in consolidated geologic material. Unconsolidated Parent material is classified by its last means of transport. Material that was transported to a location by glacier, then deposited elsewhere by streams, is classified as stream-transported pa ...
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