Soil: The Earth’s Skin at Work

Friday April 22 – 7:30 p.m. at the Almonte United Church Social Hall

Speaker: Ken Torrance

Topic: Soil: The Earth’s Skin at Work


Soils are among the most important, most complicated and most under-appreciated of the World’s natural resources. In this lecture, the discussion will include how soils have developed as a natural body at the Earth’s surface in response to the influences of climate, parent material, organisms, topography and time. The resultant soils vary greatly in appearance, feel, colour, fertility etc. at both local and world scales. They are also viewed in different manners in different contexts – engineering, agriculture, home owner. They form the ‘skin’ of the Earth and are very important in terms of food production, organic matter recycling, the hydrological system, and engineering and construction. Most importantly, soils constitute an ecosystem that hosts more organisms and is more diverse than the above-ground ecosystem that it supports.

Speaker’s Profile:

Dr. Ken Torrance grew up on a mixed/potato farm with Honeywood silt loam soil in Dufferin County, Ontario. His education includes a B.S.A. from OAC, Guelph, and M.S. and Ph.D. at Cornell University in soil science, with his research on soil freezing and frost heave. Then he was awarded a NATO Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute – where he studied further soil chemistry, mineralogy and quick clays. He has been a Professor in the Geography Department at Carleton University since 1970, with his specialty being soils, geomorphology, Leda clay; soil freezing, the roles of soil and clays in many different situations. He was awarded an OCUFA Teaching Award in 1975.

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