Physiography | Geology | Tectonics | Soils | Drainage | Vegetation

Soils reflect a combination of many factors: vegetation, slope, parent material, climate, and others. In British Columbia, these factors are further complicated by changes in elevation, proximity to the Pacific Ocean, latitude, and the relative youth of many of the landscapes that have been formed since the last glacial event 10,000 - 15,000years ago.

It is also important to remember that vast areas of the province are at such high elevations that they have almost no soils or, are bare rock or ice field. Of the remaining soils, they can be divided into two very broad categories - forest soils and grassland soils. These can be further divided based on such characteristics as vegetation, drainage, mineral content, or soil materials.

Forest soils, for example, vary dramatically between those found under open coniferous forests and those found under the dense rainforest conditions of the Coast Mountains. In the drier interior forests, minerals may be brought up through the soil by surface evaporation and capillary action. In the wetter forests, minerals are washed away or "leached" from the soil.

Grassland soils are generally found in the province’s interior or in the Peace River District. Where the accumulation of grasses and their roots build up quickly, the soils exhibit a distinct blackness. Where the climate is drier, such as the southern Okanagan Valley, these soils may be a much lighter brown.
Soil Forming Factors

1. Climate
- affects the kind and rate of weathering and erosion
- provides heat to the soil
- provides chemicals to the soil
- affects the pace and type of deposition of eroded or weathered material
2. Parent Material
- affects the rate of weathering and erosion
- affects the rate of warming and cooling of soils
- affects the character of the soil ie. porosity
3. Vegetation - (and other biological activity)
- affects the amount and type of organic content
- affects moisture retaining characteristics
4. Topography and Drainage
- affects the amount of sunlight received
- affects the rate of erosion and runoff
- influences the amount and type of vegetation and other biological activity
5. Time
- influences the maturity of the soil