Story: Soils

A soil profile

A soil profile

A soil usually has a surface layer or 'horizon' of dark, rich organic matter, formed from plant and microbial growth and decomposition. Deeper down there are differences in soil colour and physical characteristics. The different layers seen in a pit or road cutting are called a soil profile. This example, with its three distinct major horizons, has formed under beech forest near Ikamatua in the Grey Valley, on the West Coast of the South Island.

Using this item

Massey University
Reference: Les Molloy, Soils in the New Zealand landscape: the living mantle. Lincoln: New Zealand Society of Soil Science, 1988, plate 1.9
Photograph by Quentin Christie

© New Zealand Society of Soil Science

This item has been provided for private study purposes (such as school projects, family and local history research) and any published reproduction (print or electronic) may infringe copyright law. It is the responsibility of the user of any material to obtain clearance from the copyright holder.

All images & media in this story

How to cite this page:

Allan Hewitt, 'Soils - The land’s thin skin', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 14 July 2024)

Story by Allan Hewitt, published 24 Sep 2007