WHAT IS A SOIL MONOLITH? At the museum, dozens of soil samples are on display, including soil monoliths. These vertical cross sections of the soil below our feet offer onlookers a chance to peer into the past. They reveal the different layers of soil present in a single location, developed over thousands of years. The monoliths show everything from organic layers, to layers of sand and rocks. They are created by gathering a vertical slice of soil and mounting it on a board to preserve the layers.
ABOUT SOIL: Soils are classified according to the chemical and physical origin of their components. Some soils have been weathered largely in place, while others have moved great distances. Some are primarily moved by water, while others are moved by wind. Soils can vary depending on parent material, climate, the distance it has traveled from its origin, topography and biological factors, and also time. The ratio of different components, as well as structure, texture, and other properties allow soil scientists to compare and contrast soils from different locations.
The American Geophysical Union contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.