Identify the fundamental components of soil

In this module, you will identify and explain the geographic distribution, patterns, and processes associated with Earth’s soils.

Note: Please refer to the GETTING STARTED lab module to learn tips on how to set up and maneuver through the Google Earth () component of this lab.


The following is a list of important words and concepts used in this lab module:

Cation-exchange capacity (CEC)Particle size –sand, silt, claySoil profile
CLORPTPedogenic processesSoil structure
Diagnostic horizonPore spaceSoil solution
EluviationSoil color – hue, value, chromaSoil Taxonomy
HumusSoil consistenceSoil texture
IlluviationSoil horizons – O, A, E, B, C, RTranspiration
Inorganic material (matter)Soil moisture
Organic material (matter)Soil pH


After successfully completing this module, you should be able to:

·         Identify the fundamental components of soil

·         Explain the factors that influence the development of soil (CLORPT)

·         Identify soil orders and soil series by diagnostic characteristics and location

·         Explain soil profiles and soil horizons

·         Recognize soils by texture and color

·         Describe the geography of soils at various taxonomic levels


This module examines the geography of soil. Topics include soil classifications, soil horizons, soil moisture, pH and color. While these topics may appear to be disparate, you will learn how they are inherently related.

The modules start with five opening topics, or vignettes, which are found in the accompanying Google Earth file. These vignettes introduce basic concepts of the geography of soil. Some of the vignettes have animations, videos, or short articles that will provide another perspective or visual explanation for the topic at hand.  After reading the vignette and associated links, answer the following questions. Please note that some components of this lab may take a while to download or open, especially if you have a slow internet connection.

 Expand SOIL GEOGRAPHY and then expand the INTRODUCTION folder.

Read Topic 1: The Earth’s Soils.

Question 1: Looking at the map, what is the soil moisture terminology used for regions with relatively humid climates and well-distributed rainfall, where water moves down through the soil via soil pores, like that of eastern USA, the United Kingdom, Norway, and eastern China?

a.       Udic

b.      Aridic

c.       Ustic

d.      Perudic