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Regal Dirt



Regal Dirt
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 9 to 10
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   8.35

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    Laterites, pedalfer, pedocal, regolith, Soil-dwelling, subsoil, unweathered, uppermost, feldspar, infertile, residual, topography, deposition, quartz, humus, composition
     content words:    Gulf Coast, Mississippi River, United States


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Regal Dirt
By Trista L. Pollard
  

1     Have you ever wondered where soil and dirt come from? Maybe you thought it just appeared under your feet or in your parents' garden magically everyday. Just as weathering breaks apart rock, it also gives birth to our soil. Without it, many of the plants and animals (including us) on our planet would not survive.
 
2     Soil has very distinctive characteristics that are influenced by its parent rock. How this parent rock is weathered helps to determine the characteristics of that soil. Before we get into the "dirt" about soil, there are some layers that you should know about. Regolith is the layer of rock fragments that is produced from weathering. These fragments cover most of our land surface. Bedrock lies underneath regolith, and it is solid unweathered rock. Soil is located in the uppermost region of regolith as very fine particles that were weathered from rock fragments. The lower regions of regolith tend to weather more slowly because they are protected by the upper layers of regolith. Soil contains a complex mixture of materials like minerals, water, gases, and remains of dead organisms.
 
3     The weathering of the parent rock can produce two types of soil. Once residual soil is formed, it remains directly over its parent rock. Keep in mind that wind, water, and glaciers may carry this soil away from its parent rock. The deposition of this material produces transported soil. Transported soil, since it traveled from another location, may have different characteristics than the bedrock beneath it. Clay soils are usually produced by parent rocks made of feldspar or aluminum based minerals. Sandy soils are produced by quartz bearing parent rocks that go through weathering. The minerals and other compounds found in the parent rock make up the materials or composition of the soil. These same materials also produce different soil colors. Organic materials that enter the soil usually produce black soils. Parent rocks that contain large amounts of iron form red soils. The amount of water within the soil also affects its color.

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