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Earth and Space > Soil Types

This table lists various types of soil, where it can be found and common characteristics. It may be used alongside ecosystem data to produce habitat charts or used when investigating preferred soil types for plants.

Soil Name Common Characteristics Fertility Typical Location
Gelisols Soil where permafrost lies within 2 m (7ft) of the surface Poor because of climate Cold areas with underlying permafrost
Histosols Poorly drained; contains more than 20% organic matter Variable Swamps and bogs
Spodosols Acidic soils with concentrations of organic matter, aluminum oxides, and iron oxides Good Coniferous forests in cool climates
Andisols Contains ash and volcanic glass Poor, requires fertilizers Near volcanoes
Oxisols Rich in iron and aluminum oxides Poor, requires fertilizers Humid tropic
Vertisols High clay content; swells when moist, then dries and cracks Good, with proper management Seasonally dry areas
Aridsols Dry soils with prominent clay horizon Good if irrigated Desert regions
Ultisols Acidic soil with strong horizons; formed in forests; contains clay Poor; requires fertilizers Temperate humid and tropical regions
Mollisols Thick, dark organic surface horizon Excellent Grasslands
Alfisols Fertile forest soils with an underlying clay horizon Good Temperate humid and subhumid regions
Inceptisols Horizon development in early stages Variable Mountains and other geologically young land formations
Entisols Undifferentiated soils of recent origin Good River valleys, flood plains, and deltas