A soil usually has a surface layer or 'horizon' of dark, rich organic matter, formed from plant and microbial growth and decomposition. Deeper down there are differences in soil colour and physical characteristics. The different layers seen in a pit or road cutting are called a soil profile. This example, with its three distinct major horizons, has formed under beech forest near Ikamatua in the Grey Valley, on the West Coast of the South Island.
Using this item
Reference: Les Molloy, Soils in the New Zealand landscape: the living mantle. Lincoln: New Zealand Society of Soil Science, 1988, plate 1.9
Photograph by Quentin Christie
© New Zealand Society of Soil Science
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