Zoom into Soil: Soils in Scotland

Feb 2, 2022 | Videos

Dr Allan Lilly, a Senior Soil Scientist at The James Hutton Institute, presents The Soils of Scotland: An Overview as we look ahead to the World Congress of Soil Science 2022 in Glasgow. With this in mind, Allan provides an overview of Scottish soils, their diversity and some of the factors that contribute to the diverse range of soils found within the Scottish landscape.

Ben Butler, a Digital Soil Mineralogist at the James Hutton Institute, presents The Mineralogy of Scottish Soils. The many properties and functions that soils provide for life on land are inherently linked to their mineralogy. Accurately identifying and quantifying soil mineral compositions therefore provides a wealth of information that can be used to better understand and manage soil systems amidst the great demands placed upon them. Scottish soils are particularly diverse in mineralogy due to the assortment of parent materials that feature across the nation, in combination with the variation in soil forming factors that act upon them. In his presentation, Ben introduces the minerals that can be found in Scottish soils, their approximate spatial variation, and how these minerals affect soil properties. He discusses some ways in which soil mineral data can be collected and analysed quantitatively using open-source, computational approaches.

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Zoom into Soil: Soils, A Record of Our Past

We welcome Dr Ria Mitchell from the University of Sheffield to present ‘Palaeosols (fossil soils) as records of environmental, climatic and evolutionary change through geologic time’ and Lynne Gardiner from Wardell Armstrong LLP to present ‘What lies beneath?: Putting the senses back into the past’.

Fossilised soils, or palaeosols, are preserved in the geologic rock record for the past ~3 billion years. Therefore, they provide insight into ancient environmental, climatic, and evolutionary changes over this time and have become a well documented proxy in the literature. They provide a unique perspective of these Earth-wide processes because they form at the interface between the lithosphere, the hydrosphere, the atmosphere, and the biosphere, often preserving specific geochemical signatures of conditions at their time of formation. Dr Ria Mitchell’s talk is in two parts: the first detailing the geological record of palaeosols, and the second highlighting some specific time periods in the evolutionary history of life on land and how it is linked with soil/palaeosol evolution.

Environmental archaeology is an umbrella term for a suite of specialisms within archaeology. In her presentation, Lynne Gardiner provides an overview of the most common ones utilised within commercial archaeology. This overview will be the precursor to a more in-depth look at what materials may be present in the soils and sediments. By using examples of some of her projects, Lynne shows how this ecofactual material enables us to examine the palaeoecology of our landscapes.

Zoom into Soil: Peatlands of Scotland

Supported by Visit Britain and Nature Scot, we welcome Andrew McBride and Rebekka Artz as they present their expert knowledge on the topic of Scottish peat.