GEOS 431 Soils

Cynthia Fadem,
Earlham College


This course introduces students to the skin of the Earth, examining soil as both a geological material and a natural resource. We explore the awesome complexity of soils from molecular- to landscape-scale and examine the particular problems soils pose to human-landscape interaction.

Course Size:
less than 15

Course Format:
Integrated lecture and lab

Course Context:

This is an upper-level undergraduate course for Geology and Environmental Science majors, and Geology and Environmental Geology minors. The prerequisites are and introductory course (Physical or Environmental Geology) and my mid-level Geochemistry course.

Course Content:

Lecture and discussion topics include the formation, physics, chemistry, ecology, and sustainable management of the world's soils. Laboratory exercises incorporate field description, laboratory analysis, and large-scale research questions. One weekend field trip is required.

Course Goals:

  • to provide students with an understanding of soil diversity and complexity
  • to enable students to interpret soils and their attendant temporal and spatial systems
  • to emphasize the importance of soils in global sustainability, and encourage the development of effective soil-ecological management practices



Fadem - GEOS 431 - Soils Syllabus (Acrobat (PDF) 218kB May24 13)

Teaching Materials:

References and Notes:

Brady, N.C., and Weil, R.R. (2010). Elements of the Nature and Properties of Soils.