FORMATION OF SOILS BASIC INFORMATION AND TUTORIALS


HOW THE SOILS ARE FORMED?

Soil is defined as a natural aggregate of mineral grains, with or without organic constituents, that can be separated by gentle mechanical means such as agitation in water. By contrast rock is considered to be a natural aggregate of mineral grains connected by strong and permanent cohesive forces.

The process of weathering of the rock decreases the cohesive forces binding the mineral grains and leads to the disintegration of bigger masses to smaller and smaller particles. Soils are formed by the process of weathering of the parent rock.

The weathering of the rocks might be by mechanical disintegration, and/or chemical decomposition.

Mechanical Weathering
Mechanical weathering of rocks to smaller particles is due to the action of such agents as the expansive forces of freezing water in fissures, due to sudden changes of temperature or due to the abrasion of rock by moving water or glaciers.

Temperature changes of sufficient amplitude and frequency bring about changes in the volume of the rocks in the superficial layers of the earth's crust in terms of expansion and contraction. Such a volume change sets up tensile and shear stresses in the rock ultimately leading to the fracture of even large rocks.

This type of rock weathering takes place in a very significant manner in arid climates where free, extreme atmospheric radiation brings about considerable variation in temperature at sunrise and sunset.

Erosion by wind and rain is a very important factor and a continuing event. Cracking forces by growing plants and roots in voids and crevasses of rock can force fragments apart.

Chemical Weathering
Chemical weathering (decomposition) can transform hard rock minerals into soft, easily erodable matter.

The principal types of decomposition are hydmtion, oxidation, carbonation, desilication and leaching. Oxygen and carbon dioxide which are always present in the air readily combine with the elements of rock in the presence of water.

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