Soil Composition

Soil profile

Soil is a complex matrix composed of mineral grains, organic material, and living and decomposing organisms. The proportions and characteristics of the mineral, organic and biological components of soil vary, in an often unique manner.

Underlying parent material, land-use/vegetation, and climate have important influence on soil composition. With recent advances in analytical methodology, soil components can be separated and characterised at an increasing level of detail.

The SoilFit project will use a suite of measurements to characterise sample soils from across the UK. The resulting databse will include detailed information on:

  • Colour: quantified using spectrometry
  • Partical size analysis: determined using lazer methodology
  • Mineralogy: characterised using X-Ray Powder Difraction and QemSCAN
  • General chemical fingerprint: Fourtir Transformed Infa Red (FTIR) spectrometry
  • Microbial community: Terminal Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism
  • Wax biomarkers: alkanes, alcohols, and acids with GC-MS
  • Pollen: identified through expert palynologist

The resulting database will provide detailed information on the characteristics of the major soil and land-use types across the UK. It will provide a background database to match potential soil evidence samples to, and help to determine areas of likely origin.SoilFit logo