Update: 21.03.2018

Soil is one of the most complicated biological materials on our planet.

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The International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS) is the global union of soil scientists. The objectives of the IUSS are to promote all branches of soil science, and to support all soil scientists across the world in the pursuit of their activities. This website provides information for IUSS members and those interested in soil science.

International Year of Soils – 2015

2015 is the International Year of Soils and the IUSS, as the global union of soil scientists, will celebrate soils and soil science in 2015 in a big way! Meetings and conferences have been planned and a tentative list is given here   Please send all you planned activities and meetings for IYS2015 to the IUSS President     rhorn@soils.uni-kiel.de

ICSU General Assembly

The triennial GA of the International Council for Science hosted by the Royal Society of New Zealand was held in Auckland, New Zealand, August 30 – September 3, 2014.   The discussions were wide ranging including the promotion of science and scientific understanding amongst the global population and the need for scientists to communicate with the people and policy makers, gender balance and the need to ensure freedom to participate in scientific exploration and to express science based views.   There were sessions on a number of aspects of global science including the much heralded programme ‘Future Earth’; this is developing into a major programme, but some Unions and National Academies expressed concern at the limited attention given in the programme to the solid earth component, such as soils, geological materials and earth surface processes. ICSU reiterated its commitment to open access of scientific material and also cautioned against the uncritical use of metrics when evaluating science and scientists. Professor Gordon Bean (IUGG) a meteorologist took over as President of ICSU at the end of the meeting.

IUSS Bulletin 125

The next IUSS Bulletin will be out in November. Please send all contributions (big and small), ideas and reports before 20th October to   hartemink@wisc.edu


Illustrated Guide to Soil Taxonomy

The Guide is an illustrated derivative product of the 12th Edition of the Keys to Soil Taxonomy (recently endorsed by the IUSS) presenting soil classification to the great group level.  It is designed to help college students, especially those participating on collegiate soil judging teams, learn the fundamental concepts of pedogenic features and soil classification. The Guide supports soil scientists beginning their career in soil survey by presenting basic concepts of soil features and taxa that may be new to them. The Illustrated Guide is useful to natural resource management and engineering professionals who use soil survey information in their work. It presents the broad concepts and diagnostic features used in soil classification that impact use and management decisions. Definitions of the diagnostic horizons and features are accompanied by photos and background information, including examples of common horizon nomenclature.  The Guide is available online at  http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/soils/survey/class/?cid=nrcs142p2_053580#illustrated

New Publications

Contaminant Geochemistry: Interactions and Transport in the Subsurface Environment. By B. Berkowitz , I. Dror, B. Yaron, September 9 , 2014. Springer. ISBN: 978-3-642-54776-8 (Hardcover) 978-3-642-54777-5 (Online), 2nd edition, 577 pages. Price $24.99 (MyCopy Softcover edition). This book combines soil science, subsurface hydrology and environmental geochemistry, providing a comprehensive background for specialists interested in the protection and sustainable management of the subsurface environment in soils vadose zone, and ground water. Initially the reader is introduced to the characterization of subsurface environment, to selected geochemical processes, and the chemistry of selected contaminants in the soil and subsurface. The major focus of the book is on contaminant partitioning and reactions in porous media solid phases, soil solutions, and groundwater, accounting for their persistence and transformation in the subsurface, as they are transported from the land surface into groundwater. Case studies discussions are provided for each part of the book illustrating many of the subjects presented. In this updated and expanded second edition, new literature has been added on contaminant fate in the soil-subsurface environment. In particular, more data on the behavior of inorganic contaminants and on engineered nanomaterials were included, the latter comprising a group of “emerging contaminants” that may reach the soil and subsurface zones.  New chapters are devoted to a new perspective of contaminant geochemistry, namely irreversible changes in pristine land and subsurface systems following chemical contamination. Two chapters were added on this topic, focusing attention on the impact of chemical contaminants on the matrix and properties of both liquid and solid phases of soil and subsurface domains.

Soil Strength and Slope Stability, 2nd Edition. By J.M. Duncan, S. G. Wright, and T.L. Brandon. September 22, 2014. Wiley. ISBN: 978-1-118-65165-0. Hardcover 336 pages. Price $150.00. Soil Strength and Slope Stability, Second Edition presents the latest thinking and techniques in the assessment of natural and man-made slopes, and the factors that cause them to survive or crumble. Using clear, concise language and practical examples, the book explains the practical aspects of geotechnical engineering as applied to slopes and embankments. The new second edition includes a thorough discussion on the use of analysis software, providing the background to understand what the software is doing, along with several methods of manual analysis that allow readers to verify software results. The book also includes a new case study about Hurricane Katrina failures at 17th Street and London Avenue Canal, plus additional case studies that frame the principles and techniques described. Slope stability is a critical element of geotechnical engineering, involved in virtually every civil engineering project, especially highway development. Soil Strength and Slope Stability fills the gap in industry literature by providing practical information on the subject without including extraneous theory that may distract from the application. This balanced approach provides clear guidance for professionals in the field, while remaining comprehensive enough for use as a graduate-level text. Topics include: (1) mechanics of soil and limit equilibrium procedures, (2) analyzing slope stability, rapid drawdown, and partial consolidation, (3) safety, reliability, and stability analyses, (4) and reinforced slopes, stabilization, and repair. The book also describes examples and causes of slope failure and stability conditions for analysis, and includes an appendix of slope stability charts. Given how vital slope stability is to public safety, a comprehensive resource for analysis and practical action is a valuable tool. Soil Strength and Slope Stability is the definitive guide to the subject, proving useful both in the classroom and in the field.

Smith’s Elements of Soil Mechanics, 9th Edition. By I. Smith. 2014. Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN: 978-0-470-67339-3. Paperback 488 pages. Price $49.95. The 9th edition maintains the content on all soil mechanics subject areas - groundwater flow, soil physical properties, stresses, shear strength, consolidation and settlement, slope stability, retaining walls, shallow and deep foundations, highways, site investigation - but has been expanded to include a detailed explanation of how to use Eurocode 7 for geotechnical design. The key change in this new edition is the expansion of the content covering Geotechnical Design to Eurocode 7. Redundant material relating to the now defunct British Standards - no longer referred to in degree teaching - has been removed. Building on the success of the earlier editions, this 9th edition of Smith’s Elements of Soil Mechanics brings additional material on geotechnical design to Eurocode 7 in an understandable format. Many worked examples are included to illustrate the processes for performing design to this European standard.

Transport and Fate of Chemicals in Soils: Principles and Applications. By H. M. Selim., 2014.  CRC Press. ISBN: 978-1-466-55794-9.  Hardcover 352 pages. Price $139.95. This book provides the fundamentals for the understanding of reactive chemicals retention and their transport in soils and aquifers. The book offers the first comprehensive treatment with supporting examples of mathematical models that describe contaminants reactivity and transport in soils and aquifers. It is also a practical guide for designing experiments and collecting data that focuses on characterizing retention as well as release kinetic reactions in soils and contaminant transport experiments in the laboratory, greenhouse (column) and in the field.

Soil: Reflections on the Basis of our Existence. By H. Wallander. 2014. Springer. ISBN: 978-3-319-08457-2. Hardcover 141 pages. Price $189.00.  It is well known that the soil beneath our feet is one of the most critical components for life on our planet. And yet it holds secrets that would surprise even the most avid gardener. Håkan Wallander, Professor of Soil Biology at Lund University, takes us on a journey through this hidden and multifaceted world, sharing his intimate knowledge of soil acquired during years of research and visits to the rainforests of South America, Africa’s deserts and North America’s glaciers, interwoven with observations from his homeland, Sweden. Through words and pictures, Wallander brings to life the biological and chemical processes that shape and form the soil. He explains the critical role of bacteria and fungi in soil fertility, interspersing personal reflections with scientific argument and illuminating his subject with fascinating insights. What, for instance, makes a fine wine explode on our taste buds like an Olympic fireworks display? This is a book like no other. One that makes the soil a little easier – and infinitely more exciting – to understand.

Impaired Wetlands in a Damaged Landscape: The Legacy of Bitumen Exploitation in Canada. By K.P. Timoney. 2014. Springer. ISBN: 978-3-319-10234-4.  Paperback 125 pages. Price $ 54.99. This work is a scientific monograph that examines the flora and vegetation of natural mineral wetlands in comparison to mineral wetlands affected by bitumen exploitation. The work is of broad relevance because (a) wetland loss and degradation is a global problem; (b) the continued global increase in fossil fuel exploitation is resulting in widespread damage; and (c) bitumen (tar sands, oil sands) exploitation is a rapidly growing and destructive set of activities. The core of the work is a meta-analysis of 417 vegetation plots. Analyses of change over time and chemical and physical attributes of water and soil are presented for the subset of plots with sufficient data. The purpose of the work is to demonstrate that: (1) There are marked differences between natural and industrially-affected wetlands. (2) Industrially-affected mineral wetlands differ from natural wetlands in their vegetation assemblages, their depressed vegetation and species diversity, and their abundance of exotic weeds. (3) Successful post-bitumen mining wetland reclamation has not been accomplished and may not be attainable within the foreseeable future given the ecological and physical conditions of the industrial wetlands, current reclamation practices, and lax regulatory standards. In regard to government policy and industrial practices, it finds that they are responsible for reclamation failure on a grand scale.