The conversion of rock to soil conditions Earth’s surface for erosion by wind, water, gravity and life. Together these agents wear down hills and mountains even as they rise up under the strain of tectonic forces in the crust. Meanwhile, weathering in soils liberates nutrients from minerals and disaggregates otherwise sterile rock into hospitable substrates for life. Over the last two decades geochemists, geomorphologists, and soil scientists alike have increasingly used cosmogenic nuclides to quantify how fast soils are made, modified, and finally swept away in hilly and mountainous landscapes around the world. These studies are revolutionizing understanding of soils and their role in feedbacks that shape Earth’s surface and modulate its ecosystems and climate over millions of years.
Dixon, J. L., Riebe, C. S. (2014): Making soil. Elements, in review.
This Paper/Book acknowledges NSF CZO grant support.