Investigating Soils – a Mrs. Watson and class science study

Here is a link to Mrs. Watson and class's brilliant soil study post...

Soil Investigations

Dear Mrs. Watson and class,

Your soil investigation techniques are wonderful and I see you have discovered soil isn't as simple as it might seem. The soil around my house is mainly a clay/sand mix but we have improved the soil in our garden by adding to our natural soil. We help build the humus layer.

Let's have a quick look at the story of soils...

 Rocks

Formed from lava flows.

This photo is from my collection of photos but was unmarked and so I am not certain of its source.

Location: Kilaeua, Hawaii, U.S.A.

Blown out by volcanic eruptions.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Location: Mount Tarawera, New Zealand

Can build up in layers.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Location: Rock cutting, Yellowpinch, Australia

Eroded by wind and rain to form sands.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Location: Bournda National Park, N.S.W., Australia

Shells can add to the mix.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Location: Bournda National Park, N.S.W., Australia

In time some hardy plants can grow.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Location: Bournda National Park, N.S.W., Australia

Other plants take hold as the soil builds up. Dying plants build the humus layer.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Location: Bournda National Park, N.S.W., Australia

Fires can add ash to the mix making soils richer and help plants grow

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Location: Royal National Park, N.S.W., Australia

Sometimes drought can take away the plants...

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Location: Bournda National Park, N.S.W., Australia

...but water can make the plants burst into life again.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Location: Bournda National Park, N.S.W., Australia

 

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Location: Bournda National Park, N.S.W., Australia

 

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Location: Bournda National Park, N.S.W., Australia

 The process goes on as layers form and erode away, sometimes sharing beautiful colouring with us as they do...

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Location: North Tura Beach, Bournda National Park, N.S.W., Australia

and looking more like the work of an artist's brush.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Location: North Tura Beach, Bournda National Park, N.S.W., Australia

Did you know colour can sometimes give you clues to soils?  When I lived in western New South Wales the soil looked reddish in colour. It was coloured by  iron content in the soil. The soil was rusty.

In the above photos I recently took, you can see many colours. Being a national park, I couldn't take samples to check what the different colours were but I could take photos. I was left with questions...

How many colours can you see?

Are the red areas high in iron?

Are the yellows coloured by sulphur?

Could the white be layers formed from shells?

Could the pink be a mixture of the others?

Soils and how they are made can be a very interesting subject and, as you have found, are not just dirt.

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