eli5: What is soil, technically?


Are soil and dirt one and the same, and is it possible to run out of either? Hypothetically speaking, is there a set amount of soil on Earth? How does more soil get generated?

In: 145

Soil is a mixture of ground up rock and decayed organic material.

Soil is continually created, as part of the great cycles of life.

Ground up rock is created as a result of erosion, with rocks being weathered by water, wind, ice, physical erosion by animals etc.

(and new rocks can be formed over time by sediments being glued together by minerals and compressed, or by magma cooling into new rocks)

New organic matter is created by leaves falling from trees, fruit rotting, animals pooing, animals dying and rotting, insects and fungus rotting wood etc.

It all just goes around and around.

Soil has an ecosystem whereas dirt does not, technically the organisms within said ecosystem generate the top layer of dirt into soil.

In grad school they told me that dirt was what you wash off your hands when you’re done working in the soil.

it’s hard to tell what you mean dirt is what people keep out of their house. And soil is fertile land in which you can grow stuff. both can be the same but not necessarily. About the generation of soil. at the beging the world was full of dirty (rocks sediment ..) but plants (falling leaves ) mushrooms (decaing stuff) made the world so things can grow. so soil is generated all the time as long as we don’t poison or dring up the planet.

Soil is the result of fungi breaking down organic matter. Without mushrooms, there’d be no soil.