What is the Vadose Zone?

Scientists call the region between the soil surface and the groundwater table the vadose zone. It also is often called the unsaturated zone. This zone comprises soil and underlying sediments or bedrock that lie above the groundwater table. The vadose zone contains “the living skin” of our planet, that is, the outermost layer of Earth … Continue reading What is the Vadose Zone?

Does the soil on a baseball field influence the players?

In a word, yes, the type of soil on the baseball field greatly affects how players perform! Professional baseball fields are built from many types of soil. You might never guess that beneath the athletes’ feet is a precisely-engineered mixture made of multiple components. We call these materials “engineered soils.” Engineered soils are designed and … Continue reading Does the soil on a baseball field influence the players?

How does low-impact development help manage stormwater?

Cities can have many benefits when designed well, including reducing carbon imprints. Another way cities can improve their environmental impact is by using “low-impact development” with regard to water management. Also called “green stormwater infrastructure,” it provides planners with a toolbox of practices and approaches to manage water during rain events and snowmelt. On undeveloped … Continue reading How does low-impact development help manage stormwater?

How does young soil support plant life?

In order to grow well, plants need a place to grow, access to nutrients, and in most cases sunlight. A rich soil provides that home and a good supply of nutrients. But young soils have less to offer – yes, soils can have different ages ranging from hundreds to thousands to millions of years old. … Continue reading How does young soil support plant life?

How can homeowners recycle grey water?

Here in California – and in many parts of the world – water scarcity is a way of life. Thankfully, most of the water that we use indoors can be safely reused for outdoor irrigation and toilet flushing. This is called grey water. Grey water is used water from sinks, showers and washing machines. It … Continue reading How can homeowners recycle grey water?

Why do landslides happen?

A landslide is made of mud and other earth materials that fall down a slope, usually after a period of heavy rain. When buildings or other infrastructure balance on soils that cannot effectively capture and react to precipitation, landslides may occur. The weight of the water and the steep incline push the mud and dirt … Continue reading Why do landslides happen?

What is soil made of?

Soils can look like they are a homogeneous material. But in reality, soil contains solid particles of different sizes and different types. Some of the particles are minerals, and others are organic matter. There are spaces between the particles called pores. These pores may be filled with air or water. Soil is a mixture of … Continue reading What is soil made of?

How do soils and humans impact one another?

Soils are a finite resource, and only renew over centuries or millennia. Soils provide many “services” to humans, yet it is largely an ignored resource. Some of the services soils provide are: Capturing and cleaning rain and snowfall,Providing structure to grow our food,Holding carbon in the form of organic matter (carbon sequestration), andProviding a home … Continue reading How do soils and humans impact one another?

How can farmers grow crops in more coarse soils?

Particles of sandy soils generally have a mean diameter between 0.05mm and 2mm. They are the largest of soil particle types – the smaller particles are called silt and clay. A soil that is good for farming consists of a mixture of these particles, allowing for healthy crops. Loam is a particularly good type of … Continue reading How can farmers grow crops in more coarse soils?

Is lead contamination ancient history?

Lead's use may be – but we still have a lead problem, especially in urban areas. The first extraction of the metal lead from ores was ancient – around 7,000 BCE. In the millennia since, Egyptians have used it in cosmetics, Romans in their pipes, the British in their ammunition, and now every society in … Continue reading Is lead contamination ancient history?