Parent material

"Soil is a loose surface formation, 
a kind of pathologic condition of
the native rock." Richthoffen 
(transl. by Joffe, 1949).

It has long been recognised that parent material has a major influence on the physical and chemical properties of soils. It is one of the five traditionally accepted factors of soil formation, the others being climate, topography, organic material and time (Gray and Murphy 2002). Several definitions and perceptions about soil parent material exist. In general, parent material is the initial state of soil formation (Jenny 1941). Parent material is considered to provide the primary raw material upon which the other influencing factors will serve to modify (Gray and Murphy 2002). For soil mapping purposes it is defined as the material from which soil has presumably derived (FAO 2006). It can be said that if some soil properties of different parent materials under certain climatic, vegetative and topographic conditions are known then one can predict soil characteristics in other remote areas by looking only types of parent material (Gökbulak and Özcan, 2008).


FAO 2006. Guidelines for soil description. FAO, Rome, Italy.

Gökbulak, F., Özcan, M., 2008. Hydro-physical properties of soils developed from different parent materials. Geoderma, 145: 376-380.

Gray, J. and Murphy, B., 2002. Parent material and world soil distribution. 17th WCSS, Bangkok, Thailand.

Jenny, H., 1941. Factors of soil formation. A system of quantitative pedology. Mcgraw-Hill, New York.

Joffe, J.S., 1949. Pedology. Pedology Publications, New Brunswick, N.Y, 622p.

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© Ulrich Schuler 2008 -