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In general, soil types on the African continent may be divided into five broad categories. Discuss


In general, soil types on the African continent may be divided into five broad categories. Discuss



1. Desert soils
These soils are characterized by the general lack of organic content; by the types of rock reflected in them, the chemical weathering of which has been inhibited by the lack of water; and by the crusts or concretions of soluble salts on or just below their surface. While these crusts are in general thought to have been formed as a result of evaporation, it is nevertheless possible that they may have been formed under a wetter climate during the Pleistocene Epoch.

2. Chestnut-brown soils
In the semiarid areas bordering the desert, increased rainfall makes grass vegetation more plentiful, results in rocks becoming more weathered than in the desert, and produces better developed soils with a higher humus content. It is the humus content that, according to the amount present, gives the chestnut soils their characteristic light or dark brown colour. Chestnut soils also differ from desert soils because they receive enough water to wash out some of the salt accumulations either on the surface or immediately below it.

3. Chernozem-like and black soils
An unfailing characteristic of the chernozem is the presence of a subsurface zone of calcium carbonate, sometimes accompanied by calcium sulfate, which is left behind after all the soluble salts have been washed out. Grouped with them are the black soils, which should, perhaps, be differently classified, for their black colour is not necessarily due to high humus content but rather to the presence of certain minerals, as in the black soils of the Accra Plains, in Ghana.

4. Red tropical soils and laterites
The majority of tropical soils have shades of colour varying from yellow and brown to red. The reddish colour reflects the presence of iron oxides that form as a result of chemical weathering. At one time all tropical red earths or soils were indiscriminately referred to as laterites, but it is now clear that the term laterite should be confined to those tropical soils with large concentrations of iron and aluminum sesquioxides (insoluble compounds) that have formed a hard pan at or just below the surface. At the most advanced state of laterization, bauxite, from which aluminum is extracted, is formed. Most tropical soils are in varying stages of laterization, which is to say they are at various stages of accumulating insoluble compounds as the soluble elements are leached out. The compounds accumulate more readily in areas with a pronounced dry season and where the water table is not too far below the surface. If the top horizons (layers) of the soils should erode, the subsurface concentrations of sesquioxides are then exposed to the atmosphere, whereupon they crystallize irreversibly to form true laterite concretions.

5. Mediterranean soils
Mediterranean soils are generally deficient in humus, not so much because of sparse vegetation cover as because of the slowness of the chemical processes that convert the vegetable matter to humus. Low rainfall, occurring when temperatures are lowest, retards chemical weathering. The uneven surface relief of the regions where these soils occur also makes it difficult for mature soils to develop, since the land, except in the valley bottoms, is not sufficiently flat over wide enough areas to allow the soil forming (parent) materials to remain in place and thus to be thoroughly weathered.
francis1897 answered the question on January 11, 2023 at 13:28

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