Soils - Paton, T. R.; Humphreys, G. S.; Mitchell, P. B. - Yale University Press


A New Global View

  • T. R. Paton, G. S. Humphreys, and P. B. Mitchell
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This important book challenges the prevalent view of the characteristics and origins of soils. In it, three distinguished earth scientists argue that soils are primarily geological materials altered and rearranged by biological, geological, and geomorphic processes rather than as direct products of time, climate, organisms, parent material, and topographic setting. In adopting an earth science approach (including insights from plate tectonics), the book provides a new model of soils formation that has worldwide applicability.

The authors begin with an overview of contemporary and traditional pedology, one that exposes the inadequacies of climate determinism and the reliance on zonalism. They then demonstrate the importance of such factors as rock formation and position, biological and surface-movement processes that lead to the development of a mobile surface layer, and mineral and fabric inheritance below the mobile layer. The authors document their new approach to soils formation primarily with studies of soils in tropical and arid continental areas of Africa and Australia, which are very different from the cool postglacial soils of Russia and North America that have been influential in shaping soil science up to this time.

T.R. Paton, G.S. Humphreys, and P.B. Mitchell are members of the School of Earth Sciences at Macquarie University, Australia.