Rock turns to soil faster than thought

New measurements from New Zealand’s Southern Alps show that rock can transform into soil more than twice as fast as previously believed possible.

The results show that soil production and weathering rates continue to increase as the landscape gets steeper and erodes faster. Other very steep locations such as the Himalayas and the mountains in Taiwan may also have very fast soil formation.

Geologists took samples from the rugged mountain range, which has a rainfall of 10 metres per year and slopes of around 35 degrees. Soil was produced at the shockingly fast rate of two millimetres a year. Scientists previously thought soil formation takes twice as long.

The researchers believe plant roots may be responsible, helping to break apart rocks and expose them to rainwater and chemical weathering.

Read more at University of Washington