Geography of Soils

soil profile at Point Reyes, soil diagram and soil sample
Course Number
Geog 317
Course Type
Course Description

Soils lie at the intersection of all areas of physical geography: they develop as a result of environmental factors of climate and surface hydrology; on parent material developed from local bedrock and sediments; are modified by local geomorphic processes and topographic relationships; and co-evolve with biotic systems such as plant communities and microorganisms. The relationship between soils and humans is profound: agriculture depends on soils, yet human misuse is the major cause of soil degradation. In this course, students learn how soils form from the interplay of these factors, how and where they develop their essential properties (texture, structure, moisture, chemical nutrients, organisms, etc.), and how we can best sustain them as an essential natural resource.