When you think of soil, such as when planting a garden or sod for your lawn, you generally only think of the material that you see on the surface. In fact, soil is very diverse and composed of many different items. Typical soil, whether found in your own backyard or on the Serengeti Plain, is made up of the same basic materials, including organic matter, gravel, sand, silt and clay. There are six distinct layers that make up soil.
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Find the uppermost part of the soil, know as humus. It is generally the darkest part of the soil due to the amount of organic material, or compost, that it is mostly comprised of.
Determine the next layer in the soil, known as topsoil; this is the area where plants receive nutrients from the soil and set up their root systems. Similar to humus, it has decomposed organic material as well as minerals.
Find the third layer in the soil, which is known as eluviation; this soil is lighter than the upper two layers and is mostly made up of sand and silt.
Locate the next layer of soil, known as subsoil. This layer of soil receives the materials that leach from the eluviation layer and is mostly made up of clay and mineral deposits.
Find the soil below the subsoil layer, which is known as regolith; this layer is mostly made up of loose rock particles.
Locate the bottom layer of soil, known as bedrock; this soil was the first soil to form and is generally never exposed except during severe trauma to the soil, such as an earthquake. Unlike the soils above it, bedrock is solid.