Teach the Earth > Geomorphology > Teaching Activities > Geomorphic Analysis of Soils

Geomorphic Analysis of Soils

Briget C. Doyle
College of Charleston
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This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Reviewed Teaching Collection

This activity has received positive reviews in a peer review process involving five review categories. The five categories included in the process are

  • Scientific Accuracy
  • Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
  • Pedagogic Effectiveness
  • Robustness (usability and dependability of all components)
  • Completeness of the ActivitySheet web page

For more information about the peer review process itself, please see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.

This activity has benefited from input from faculty educators beyond the author through a review and suggestion process. This review took place as a part of a faculty professional development workshop where groups of faculty reviewed each others' activities and offered feedback and ideas for improvements. To learn more about the process On the Cutting Edge uses for activity review, see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.

This page first made public: May 2, 2008


Students will sample and describe a series of soils in the field. Data gathered in the field will be used to compare sampled soils to mapped soils and local soil development.

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Undergraduate (sophomore/junior) elective course in geomorphology

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

-Basic understanding of soil formation processes
-basic understanding of soil horizions

How the activity is situated in the course

Stand-alone field exercise


Content/concepts goals for this activity

- sampling and describing soils in the field
- reading and interpreting NRCS soil data
- reading and locating points on an aerial photograph

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

- relating sampled soils to topography
- relating sampled soils to degree of soil development
- relating sampled soils to past and present land use

Other skills goals for this activity

- preparing a technical write up of the soils sampled, their description, and how the soils relate geomorphically to other soils in the area

Description of the activity/assignment

Students are taken to a former plantation along a tidal river near Charleston, SC. The students are then shown how to sample and describe soils using an push-auger sampler, similar to those used in industry. After the demonstration, the students are taken to various locations on the plantation, including upland areas, wetlands, former agricultural areas, lowlands, and tidal marshes, to sample and make field descriptions of the various soils encountered. Students describe depths to horizons, soil color using Munsell Color Charts, soil texture, and any other pertinent properties. Students then prepare a formal technical write-up on the soils, their distribution, and how their sampling results compare to published soil data for the area.
Designed for a geomorphology course
Uses online and/or real-time data

Determining whether students have met the goals

Observation in the field of sampling skills, soil description, and field note taking is considered along with the content, analysis, and quality of the final write-up.

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

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