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soil glossary

Alluvial fan A fan shaped deposit of alluvium, laid down by a stream where it emerges from an upland to less steeply sloping terrian
Alluvium Material such as clay, slit, sand and gravel deposited by modern rivers and streams
Bed A unit layer, 1 cm or more thick, that is visually or physically more or less distinctly separable from other layers above and below in a stratified sequence
Bedrock The solid rock that underlies the soil and the regolith, or that is exposed at the surface
Calcareous soil Soil containing sufficient calcium carbonate, often with magnesium carbonate, to effervesce visibly with cold 0.1N (10%) hydrochloric acid
Capillary fringe A zone of essentially saturated soil just above the water table. The size distribution of the pores determines its extent
Clay As a particle size term: a size fraction less than 0.002mm in equivalent diameter
Clayey Containing large amounts of clay, or having properties similar to those of clay
Colloid A substance in a state of fine subdivision, whose particles are 10-4 to 10-7 in diameter
Consistence The resistance of a material to deformation or rupture
Consolidation The gradual reduction in volume of soil mass resulting from an increase in compressive stress
Creep Slow mass movement of soil and soil material down rather steep slopes primarily under the influence of gravity, but aided by saturation with water and by alternate freezing and thawing. In engineering: general slow displacement
Crushing strength The force required to crush a mass of dry soil, or conversely the resistance of a mass of dry soil to crushing
Delocculate To separate the individual components of compound particles by chemical or physical means or both. to cause the particles of the dispersed phase of a colloidal system to become suspended in the dispersion medium
Delta A fan shaped area at the mouth of a river formed by the deposition of large layers of sediment brought down from the land and spread out on the bottom of a basin. where the current reaches quiet water, the bulk of the coarser load is dropped and the finer
Deposit Material left in a new posistion by a natural transporting agent such as water, wind, ice or gravity or by the activity of man
Drumlin An elongate or oval hill of glacial drift, commonly glacial till, deposited by glacier ice and having its long axis parallel to the direction of ice movement
Dunes Wind-built ridges and hills of sand formed in the same manner as snowdrifts. They are started by some obstruction, such as a bush, boulder or fence that causes an eddy or otherwise thwarts the sand laden wind.
Eolian deposit Sand or silt or both deposited by the wind
Erosion wearing of the land by running water, ice, wind, and other geological agents such as gravitational creep. detachment and movement of soil or rock by water, wind, ice or gravity
Erratic a transported rock fragment different from bedrock where it lies. the term is generally applied to fragments transported by glacier ice or by floating ice
Esker a winding ridge of irregularly stratified sand, gravel and cobbles deposited under the ice by a rapidly flowing glacial stream
Fines a term used in soil mechanics for the portion of soil finer than a number 200 U.S. standard sieve
Firm a term describing the consistence of moist soil that offers distinctly noticeable resistance to crushing, but can be crushed with moderate pressure between the thumb and forefingerq
Flood plain the land bordering a stream, built up of sediments from overflow of the stream and subject to inundation when the stream is at flood stage
Fluvial deposits all sediments, past and present, deposited by flowing water, including glaciofluvial deposits. wave worked deposits and deposits resulting from sheet erosion and mass wasting are not included
Friable a consistence term pertaining to the ease of crumbling soils
Frost action freezing and thawing of moisture in materials and the resultant effects on these materials and on the structures of which they are a part or with which they are in contact
frost heave the raising of a surface caused by ice in the underlying soil
glacial drift all rock materials carried by glacier ice and glacier meltwater or rafted by icebergs. this term includes till, stratified drift and scattered rock fragments
glacial till unstratified glacial drift deposited directly by ice and consisting of clay, sand and gravel and boulders intermingled in any proportion
glaciofluvial deposits material moved by glaciers and subsequently sorted and deposited by streams flowing from the melted ice. the deposits are stratified and may occur in the form of outwash plains, deltas, kames, eskers and kames terraces
ground moraine unsorted mixture of rocks, boulders, sand, silt, and clay deposited by glacial ice. predominant material is till, but some stratified drift is present. most of till is thought to have accumulated under the ice by lodgement;
horizon layer soil or soil material approximately parallel to the land surface. it differs from adjacent genetically related layers in properties such as colour, structure, texture, consistence and chemical, biological, and mineralogical composition
hydraulic conductivity the proportionnality factor in Dacry's law applied to the viscous flow of water in soil, that is, the flux of water per unit gradient of the hydraulic potential
hydraulic head the elevation with respect to a specified reference level at which water stands in a piezometer connected to the point in question in the soil
hydrologic cycle the conditions through which water naturally passes from the time of precipitation until it is returned to thee atmosphere by evaporation and is ready again to be precipitated
infiltration rate a soil characteristic determining or describing the maximum rate at which water can enter the soil under specified conditions, including the pressure of excess water
inorganic soil a soil made up mainly of mineral particles (greater 17% carbon)
ion atom, group of atoms, or compound that is electrically charged as a result of the loss of electrons (cation) or the gain of electrons (anions)
kame an irregular ridge or hill of stratified glacial drift deposited by glacial meltwater
kettle depression left after the melting of a detached mass of glacier ice buried by drift
lacustrine deposit material deposited in lake water and later exposed either by lowering of the water level or by uplifting of the land. these sediments range in texture from sands to clays
landforms the various shapes of the land surface resulting from a variety of actions such as deposition or sedimentation (eskers, lacustrine basins) erosion (gullies, canyons) and earth crust movements (mountains)
liquefaction the sudden, large decrease of the shearing resistance of a cohesion-less soil. it is caused by a collapse of the structure by shock or other strain and is associated with a sudden, temporary transformation of the material into a fluid mass
liquid limit the water content corresponding to an arbitrary limit between the liquid and plastic states of consistence of a soil. the water content at which a pat of soil, cut by a standard-size groove, will flow together for a distance of 12mmundertheimpactof25blows
loess material transported and deposited by wind and consisting of predominantly silt-sized particles
marl a soft, unconsolidated earthly deposit consisting of calcium carbonate or magnesium carbonate, or both and often shells, usually mixed with varying amounts of clay or other impurities
mass wasting a general term for a variety of processes by which large masses of earth material are moved by gravity from one place to another
metamorphic rock rock derived from preexisting rocks, differing from them in physical, chemical and mineralogical properties as a result of natural geological processes, principally heat and pressure, originating within the earth. may have been igneous, sedimentary rock
mineral a homogeneous naturally occurring phase, sometimes restricted to inorganic, crystalline phases
montmorillonite a specific aluminous member of the smectite group i.e. an expanding clay
moraine an accumulation of earth, generally with stones, carried and finally deposited by glacier
parent rock the rock from which the parent materials of soil are formed
particle size analysis the determination of the various amounts of the different separates in a soil sample, usually by sedimentation, sieving or micrometry or a combination of these methods
particle size distribution the amount of various soil separates, in a soil sample,
Created by: tait97



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