When land is changed by humans or nature, the undisturbed soil profile of that ecosystem is lost.
But thanks to a web-based, interactive teaching tool created by UBC students and researchers, soil monoliths collected from BC, Alberta and the Yukon can now be viewed on the web.
A soil monolith is a display model that provides a visual presentation of the horizons, color, and structure in the soil profile. This thin sequence of soil layers is created by removing a vertical slice of a profile, mounting it on a wooden frame, and stabilizing it with glue compounds. Soil monoliths are a valuable teaching resource for soil identification and classification.
The project, led by Associate Professor Maja Krzic, allows users to check out a variety of soils. It also provides a historical record of morphological features of soils prior to the impacts of human activity.
The collection is stored in our MacMillan building. Over the past 50 years, it has grown to more than
190 soil monoliths. It is the second largest collection in Canada, with many of the monoliths representing soil sites that were lost due to urban development.
The website features photos and descriptions of each monolith, as well as information on soil identification and the Canadian soil classification system. Each soil within the collection can be placed within the geographical context of location, climate and biotic type, allowing students to integrate and build upon concepts learned in their first year science and introductory soil science courses.
For more information, please visit http://soilweb.landfood.ubc.ca/monoliths