What is dirt?
What is dirt?
A teacher of mine once said: "dirt is what you track in on your mother's
floor, soil is what plants grow in." A scientist would not use the word
"dirt" for the surface layer of the ground where plants grow, that is
"soil." Soil is made up of minerals that come from rocks, and lots of
decaying plant and animal material. It takes a long time for growing things
to form rich soil, an average is about 1000 years for every inch of topsoil,
but that can be very different from one place to another.
Dirt is made of finely-ground rocks and decayed organic matter. It is
actually very complicated stuff.
Richard E. Barrans Jr., Ph.D.
PG Research Foundation, Darien, Illinois
I suggest that you try out the following web site:
It was put together by some real experts on dirt.
Dirt comes from two different things. First, when plants and other things
die, bugs and worms and other animals help break the plants down into little
bits. Dirt that is black and dark has lots of old plants in it. Also, when
rocks stay outside in the sun and rain and wind for a long, long time, they
start to fall apart into smaller and smaller pieces until they become little
tiny grains. That is why some dirt has chunks of rock in it, too.
in a general way, we can call dirt the earth that is the
soil of our planet. The soil is made mostly of substances
called silicates mixed up with a lot of other substances,
so the soil can have different properties, as different
colors, for example.
In another point of view, dirt is the opposite of clean,
but what is clean? a thing is clean when it has no impurities,
no mixtures. When your mom washes your jeans very well,
it is clean. Now if you put it on and go to play outside,
and run and play, do a lot of things, your jeans becomes
dirty, covered with impurities, and must be washed
again. So the dirt over it can be a lot of things: earth
powder, a piece of ice-cream, ink or colored pencils blots,
oil, ketchup, and so on. I mean anything that makes something
unclean can be called dirt.
OK? And thanks for asking NEWTON! it was a pleasure
answer to you!
(Dr. Mabel Rodrigues)
Click here to return to the General Topics Archives
Update: June 2012