- If you look in a soil pit or on a roadside cut, you will see various layers in the soil.
- These layers are called soil horizons.
- The arrangement of these horizons in a soil is known as a soil profile.
- Soil scientists, who are also called pedologists, observe and describe soil profiles and soil horizons to classify and interpret the soil for various uses.
- Soil horizons differ in a number of easily seen soil properties such as color, texture, structure, and thickness.
- Other properties are less visible.
- Properties, such as chemical and mineral content, consistence, and reaction require special laboratory tests.
- All these properties are used to define types of soil horizons.
- Soil scientists use the capital letters O, A, B, C, and E to identify the master horizons, and lowercase letters for distinctions of these horizons.
- Most soils have three major horizons — the surface horizon (A), the subsoil (B), and the substratum (C).
- Some soils have an organic horizon (O) on the surface, but this horizon can also be buried.
- The master horizon, E, is used for subsurface horizons that have a significant loss of minerals (eluviation).
- Hard bedrock, which is not soil, uses the letter R.
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