Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Mud Cracks
Name: Hanah Q.
Status: Student
Age: 14
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: March 16, 2004

Why does mud crack? Does it have to do with the soil? Ithink that how wet the soil is and how quickly it dries effects if it cracks into shapes.


You have come to some good deductions.

As soil dries, it contracts, forming cracks. The type of soil is very important in how large the cracks are. Soil high in organics tends to shrink less than clay soil, for instance, and therefore cracks less.

The rate at which the soil dries may not have much to do with how it cracks.

David R. Cook
Atmospheric Research Section
Environmental Research Division
Argonne National Laboratory

Click here to return to the Environmental and Earth Science Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (, or at Argonne's Educational Programs

Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory