the best science on the web about
soil & quicksand

What Is Soil?
Image: iStockphoto.com/nuwatphoto

What Is Soil?

If you think of soil as dirt, think again. This “skin of the earth” is vital to life. Soils purify water, recycle nutrients, grow food, and play many more important roles in the ecosystem.

What makes good garden soil? What exactly is quicksand? Unearth all the facts here.

Soil Science Society of America
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Chef’s Challenge

Chef’s Challenge

Watch “soil chefs” compete to cook up the best soil. Pierre LaTerre, famous for his Wisconsin loam, is up against Sandy Marsh, who often works with volcanic ash. What's the secret ingredient? More...

Video
Smithsonian
A Day in the Life: Oren Reedy

A Day in the Life: Oren Reedy

This interview with soil scientist Oren Reedy reveals how his work can be rewarding and dangerous, including close encounters with venomous snakes and alligators! More...

Profile
Soil Horizons
All About Soil

All About Soil

Dirt is dirt, right? Not exactly. Soil consists of many materials and is named using two different classification schemes. Dig into these facts about soil! More...

Article
Encyclopedia Britannica
Dig It! The Secrets of Soil

Dig It! The Secrets of Soil

Click through this interactive site to find out about soil composition, color, minerals, microbes, fertility — and why our lives depend on soil. More...

Interactive
Smithsonian
How Quicksand Works

How Quicksand Works

Quicksand is a soupy mix of sand and water. This liquefied soil is created when water saturates an area of loose sand, and the ordinary sand is agitated by flowing underground water or an earthquake. More...

Article
HowStuffWorks
How Quicksand Works: Video

How Quicksand Works: Video

Quicksand isn’t like the stuff in movies that seems to suck people down. But your movements can cause you to sink deeper. Watch Bear Grylls demonstrate how to escape quicksand. More...

Video
HowStuffWorks
How to Be a Gardener: Analyzing Your Soil

How to Be a Gardener: Analyzing Your Soil

There are 6 main soil types. Find out what kind of soil you have in your backyard and which plants are best for each kind. There’s also an easy test you can perform to analyze your soil. More...

Interactive
BBC
Our Good Earth

Our Good Earth

These photos show the success of soil conservation efforts...and the toll erosion, deforestation, and drought can take on the land. Take a look. More...

Images
National Geographic
Soil Science Education: Secrets Hidden in Soil

Soil Science Education: Secrets Hidden in Soil

There are more than 50,000 different varieties of soil in the U.S., and soil combinations vary worldwide. So, how do forensic geologists study soil to solve crimes? Find out. More...

Article
NASA
The Dirt on Dirt

The Dirt on Dirt

Ideal soil has sand for drainage, silt for mineral richness, and clay to trap moisture and nutrients. Here’s an easy activity you can do to figure out the best proportions in your soil. More...

Activity
Exploratorium

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