Geomorphology of Soil Landscapes

Authored by: Douglas A. Wysocki , Philip J. Schoeneberger , Daniel R. Hirmas , Hannan E. LaGarry

Handbook of Soil Sciences Properties and Processes

Print publication date:  November  2011
Online publication date:  November  2011

Print ISBN: 9781439803059
eBook ISBN: 9781439803066
Adobe ISBN:


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Soils form a continuum across the earth’s land surface, that is, the interface of atmospheric, biological, and geological processes. Soils are more than a veneer of surficial alteration on landscapes or sediments. Soils, landscapes, and surficial sediments or rocks together comprise 3D systems that coevolve through the interaction and balance of physical and chemical weathering versus erosion and deposition. One must comprehend the relationships among soils, landscapes, and surficial sediments to fully understand soil landscapes, successfully predict soil occurrence, and anticipate soil behavior. Soil geomorphology is the scientific study of the origin, distribution, and evolution of soils, landscapes, and surficial deposits and the processes that create and alter them. As a science, soil geomorphology is directly linked to pedology, geology, hydrology, archaeology, geomorphology, physical geography, ecology, and geotechnical engineering (Figure 29.1). Soil geomorphology relies primarily, but not solely, upon geological principles and techniques (Daniels and Hammer, 1992). Geologic/geomorphic processes substantially, but not solely, determine the materials from which soils are derived via the nature and redistribution of sediments. Principles and techniques drawn from geology or from other sciences often have applications or expressions that are unique to soils and soil landscapes. This chapter summarizes the major geomorphic principles and techniques used to understand the relationships among soils, landscapes, surficial sediments (Hunt, 1986), and internal water movement.

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