Soil properties, morphology and formation
University of Texas at El Paso
This course centers on the overlap of soil science and geology. Our goal is to explain the fundamental principles in soil sciences, introduce the concept of critical zone, where water, rock, biology, and atmosphere interact as a system.
less than 15
University with graduate programs, including doctoral programs
Students are expected to have a background in geology, chemistry and biology. In particular, a working knowledge of chemical equilibria, ionic solution chemistry, pH, and oxidation-reduction reactions, different types of minerals and rocks and their reactivity, is highly recommended. Students without such background should consult with the instructor before enrolling.
Through this course, students will understand: (1) how the interactions of landform, topography, climate, and biota result in patterns of soil development and the distribution of soils that we observe within the landscape; (2) how physical, chemical and biological properties of soils affect water and nutrient availability to plants; (3) how nutrients are cycled within terrestrial ecosystems; and (4) what are the typical types of soils in the El Paso regions and how these soils are influenced by climate and human activities.
The students will be able to describe soil properties, identify major biogeochemical processes during soil genesis in watersheds of different lithology, climate, topography and soil age, gain basic knowledge of soil functions to support agriculture and different ecosystems, and understand hillslope development and landscape evolution. Students should be able to appreciate how human activities impact soils.
I introduce the basic principles of soil properties, genesis and morphology, but pay a special emphasis on local soil development (e.g., soil salinity and sodicity in agricultural soils, pedogenic carbonate etc).
This course will expose students to a variety of topics and prepare them for environmental science-related workforce.
Have numerous discussion during each lecture. Have scenarios to invoke critical thinking.
Syllabus_soils (Acrobat (PDF) 68kB Apr29 13)
References and Notes:
Brady, N.C., and R.R. Weil. 2002. The Nature and Properties of Soils, 13th Edition.
Recommended by colleagues
Journal articles related to soil development in semiarid and arid environments.