4 Stages and Processes of Soil Formation

Joko Warino S.P M.Si

4 Stages and Processes of Soil Formation

Do you know about the Stages and Processes of Soil Formation? Soil is a component of the Earth’s crust that has been composed of both organic material and minerals.

This soil is a vital component that plays a crucial role in every life form on Earth. This is due to the fact that soil strongly supports plant life and serves as a source of nutrients and water, as well as a foundation for root systems.

The process of soil formation is closely related to the factors influencing soil development.

These factors greatly influence the various types of soil that are formed, such as peat soil, humus soil, clay soil, as well as alluvial soil, among others.

The process of soil formation is also significantly influenced by several factors. However, in general, the process of soil formation can be divided into four stages.

These four stages include the process of rock weathering, followed by structural breakdown. The stage of pioneer plant growth is next, and finally, there is the enrichment process.

Stages and Process of Soil Formation

Stages and Process of Soil Formation

Here are explanations of the 4 Stages and Process of Soil Formation:

1. Rock Weathering Process

Weathering is an event where rock masses break down, either physically, chemically, or biologically. The process of rock weathering requires a long period of time.

Every weathering process is generally influenced by weather conditions.

As a result, rocks that have undergone weathering directly transform into soil. There are three common types of weathering processes:

Physical Weathering

Physical weathering is an event where rock material breaks apart and detaches without altering the chemical structure of the rock.

The chemical structure of the rock remains unchanged.

The process of chemical weathering involves the destruction of rock masses into smaller fragments.

Erosion can also influence weathering, as frozen water between rock formations expands, exerting pressure that can damage the rock’s structure.

Chemical Weathering

Chemical weathering is a process in which the mass of rock undergoes changes in its chemical composition due to the decay of weathered rock. The chemical structure of weathered rock is altered.

Chemical weathering can be divided into four processes:

  1. Hydration: This is a weathering process that occurs on the surface of rocks. It involves the absorption of water molecules into the rock’s structure.
  2. Hydrolysis: This process involves the decomposition of rock minerals in the presence of water. The minerals undergo changes and transform into positive and negative ions.
  3. Oxidation: This process involves the rusting of iron. Rocks that have undergone oxidation often exhibit a brownish color due to the iron content in the rock undergoing rusting.
  4. Carbonation: This is a process where minerals in the rock react with carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, forming new compounds like calcium carbonate.

These chemical weathering processes contribute to the breakdown of rock and the formation of soil over time.

Biological Weathering

Biological weathering, also known as biotic weathering, is a type of weathering that commonly occurs due to the presence of living organisms.

This process takes place continuously once the soil has formed. The process of biological weathering is characterized by the activities of organisms such as plants, animals, and microorganisms that contribute to the breakdown of rocks and minerals. Plant roots can penetrate crevices in rocks, gradually causing them to disintegrate over time. Burrowing animals and insects also play a role in breaking down rock structures by creating tunnels and crevices.

Microorganisms, including bacteria and fungi, actively contribute to the biological weathering process by breaking down organic materials in rocks and accelerating the decay of mineral structures. Some microorganisms produce acidic substances that dissolve minerals in rocks, further facilitating the weathering process.

In essence, biological weathering involves the continuous actions of living organisms that contribute to the gradual breakdown and fragmentation of rocks, ultimately aiding in the formation of soil. This form of weathering is considered a refining process as it complements both physical and chemical weathering processes.

2. Structural Softening Process

In this process, the rock fragments formed through weathering undergo a structural softening.

In this case, both water and air play crucial roles. These two components are instrumental in facilitating the process.

Water and air will eventually infiltrate the gaps between the rock fragments to soften their structure.

Apart from aiding in the process of softening the rock structure, they create a habitable environment. Water and air also serve to encourage the growth of prospective living organisms on the surface.

However, it’s important to note that only a select few organisms can thrive during each stage of this process, such as microbes and moss, for instance.

The process of structural softening in the rock requires a considerable amount of time, similar to the weathering process.

3. The Growth Process of Pioneer Plants

Following the process of softening the rock structure, the next stage involves the growth of a diverse range of pioneer plants.

In this context, pioneer plants refer to those that are larger in size compared to mosses.

Consequently, the roots that penetrate the softened rock will aid in the breakdown of the rock material.

Moreover, the flow of humic acid from the rock’s surface will facilitate the decomposition of the interior rock, contributing to its substantial degradation.

This stage marks the initiation of the biological weathering process.

4. Enrichment Process

This stage marks the final phase in the formation of soil. During this stage, the soil that has formed undergoes a process of organic matter enrichment.

Initially, the soil primarily consists of minerals resulting from the weathering process. However, as this stage progresses, the soil becomes more fertile due to the incorporation of organic materials through organic weathering.

This concludes the explanation of the Stages and Processes of Soil Formation that you can comprehend. The presence of soil is crucial for the sustainability of all living organisms.



Joko Warino S.P M.Si

Allow me to introduce myself, my name is Joko Warino, a lecturer at one of the universities in Indonesia (Faculty of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry, UIN Suska Riau Indonesia). My field of expertise is soil science.

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