EDUCATION: Know Your Dirt

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Science  09 Jul 2004:
Vol. 305, Issue 5681, pp. 157
DOI: 10.1126/science.305.5681.157e

This primer gives readers a grounding in the different types of soil, from the fecund, dark earth of the Great Plains states to this clay-rich crust from Utah. Created by soil scientist Paul McDaniel of the University of Idaho, Moscow, the site describes the formation, composition, and ecological importance of each of the 12 soil orders—information used by everyone from agronomists to civil engineers. The Utah dirt here is vertisol, a type that expands when wet and shrinks as it dries, creating these characteristic cracks. Maps delineate each soil type's distribution in the United States and globally.

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