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Department of Soil and Water Systems

Physical Address:
E. J. Iddings Agricultural Science Laboratory, Rm 242
606 S Rayburn St

Mailing Address:
875 Perimeter Drive MS 2340
Moscow, ID 83844-2340

Phone: 208-885-0111

Email: cals-sws@uidaho.edu

Web: uidaho.edu/cals/sws

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Gelisols

Gelisols (from Latin gelare, "to freeze") are soils of very cold climates that contain permafrost within two meters of the surface. These soils are limited geographically to the high-latitude polar regions and localized areas at high mountain elevations. Because of the extreme environment in which they are found, Gelisols support only approximately 0.4 percent of the world's population — the lowest percentage of any of the soil orders. The frozen condition of Gelisol landscapes makes them sensitive to human activities. They are divided into three suborders: Histels, Turbels and Orthels.

Although some Gelisols may occur on very old land surfaces, they show relatively little morphological development. Low soil temperatures cause soil-forming processes such as decomposition of organic materials to proceed very slowly. As a result, most Gelisols store large quantities of organic carbon — only soils of wetland ecosystems contain more organic matter. Gelisols of the dry valleys of Antarctica are an exception — they occur in a desert environment with no plants and consequently contain very low quantities of organic carbon. They are estimated to occupy approximately 9.1 percent of the earth's ice-free land area and approximately 8.7 percent of the U.S.

Gelisols
Gellisols have either: (1) permafrost (a layer that remains below freezing for two or more successive years) within 1 meter of the soil surface; or (2) soil materials showing evidence of frost churning within 1 meter and permafrost within 2 meters of the soil surface. (USDA-NRCS image)

Contact

Department of Soil and Water Systems

Physical Address:
E. J. Iddings Agricultural Science Laboratory, Rm 242
606 S Rayburn St

Mailing Address:
875 Perimeter Drive MS 2340
Moscow, ID 83844-2340

Phone: 208-885-0111

Email: cals-sws@uidaho.edu

Web: uidaho.edu/cals/sws

Directions