Soils Photo Gallery
("List of States and State Soils")
WHAT IS A STATE SOIL?
A state soil is represented by a soil series that has special significance to a particular state. Each state in the United States has selected a state soil, fifteen of which have been legislatively established. These "Official State Soils" share the same level of distinction as official state flowers and birds. Also, representative soils have been selected for Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.
Areas with similar soils are grouped and labeled as soil series because their similar origins, chemical, and physical properties cause the soils to "behave" similarly for land use purposes. A soil series name generally is derived from a town or landmark in or near the area where the soil series was first recognized.
A soil series is a naturally occurring entity on the landscape. Therefore, a given series does not necessarily occur within the confines of only one state. Several state soils range beyond the respective states in which they are honored.
Each series consists of soils having major horizons that are similar in color, texture, structure, reaction, consistence, mineral and chemical composition, and arrangement in the soil profile. A soil profile is the sequence of natural layers, or horizons, in a soil. It extends from the surface downward to unconsolidated material. Most soils have three major horizons, called the surface horizon, the subsoil, and the substratum.
The surface layer has the maximum accumulation of organic matter and is the horizon of maximum leaching of clay minerals and of iron and aluminum oxides. Some soils have a subsurface layer below the surface layer.
The subsoil, which underlies the surface layer or subsurface layer, is the horizon of maximum accumulation of clay minerals, iron and aluminum oxides and other compounds. These compounds may have been leached from the surface layer and re-deposited in the subsoil, or may have formed in place. Most likely, they occur as a result of a combination of both of these processes. The subsoil commonly has blocky or prismatic structure and generally is firmer and lighter in color than the surface layer.
The substratum is below the surface layer and subsoil. It consists of material that has been somewhat modified by weathering but is relatively unchanged by soil-forming processes.