Soil Micromorphology

Second part: Interactive multimedia programme for self-studying soil thin section interpretation.

Carlos Dorronsoro

In the previous section (Soil Micromorphography), we saw how the first stage of soil microscopic study consists of the description of the constituents and their organisation (figure 1). From this description, the processes that have taken place during the soil formation can be deduced (figure2).

Micromorphology can be defined as the interpretation technique of the features that the soils have on a microscopic level.

The majority of the micromorphological studies have been aimed at the genetic interpretation of soils. Nevertheless, micromorphological studies with a different point of view have also been numerous, such as the studies of porosity, structure, cultivation soils, costra de golpeo, archaeology, etc. Below are some examples of the usefulness for the study of some of the formation processes and on the microprofile characteristics of some classes of soils.

Table of contents


Basic processes in the formation of soils.

General processes, which, with a greater or lesser intensity, always act on the formation of any soil.

The physical process of fragmentation.

The process of chemical alteration.

The translocation process.


Specific processes in the formation of soils

They are the combination of the action of the basic processes (depending on the intensity and the type of materials preferably affected) and they lead to the formation of specific kinds of soils (for example, the specific process of podzolization always results in the development, with sufficient intensity, of the formation of a podzol) or of a specific feature in many types of soils (for example, clay illuviation forms a Bt horizon in luvisols, alisols, acrisols, calcisols, phaeozems, planosols, nitisols, etc.).



Clay illuviation




Soil microprofile






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