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Penn State Soil Characterization Lab

Soil is an integral part of ecosystem function. There are 29 million acres (11,735,884 hectares) of soil in Pennsylvania supporting: wetlands; forest lands; agricultural lands; urban lands; homes, businesses, and roads; our drinking and wastewater filtration. Without soil, these activities and functions would be much more difficult and in some cases even impossible, for soil is as precious to our lives as the very blood in our bodies.

Research in the Soil Characterization Laboratory focuses on people’s use of landscapes and the accompanying changes in soil function across the larger ecosystem the soil supports. Dr. Drohan’s research group addresses basic science questions, but also demonstrates how this new knowledge can be applied to improve land management and ecosystem stability.

Soil Characterization Lab News

Lab Member Nico Navarro's World Soils Day podcast
February 23, 2018
Lab member Nico Navarro shared his story about soils and why he thinks they are important enough to study for his Master's Degree in Soil Science. We are proud to have him working in our lab at Penn State!
NEW PAPER: Weathering of rock to regolith: The activity of deep roots in bedrock fractures
December 6, 2017
Many areas in the world are characterized by shallow soils underlain by weathered bedrock, but root-rock interactions and their implications for regolith weathering are poorly understood. To test the role of tree roots in weathering bedrock, we excavated four pits along a catena in a shale-dominated catchment at the Susquehanna Shale Hills Critical Zone Observatory (SSHCZO) in central Pennsylvania.
NEW PAPER: Unconventional gas development facilitates plant invasions
July 25, 2017
Vegetation removal and soil disturbance from natural resource development, combined with invasive plant propagule pressure, can increase vulnerability to plant invasions. Unconventional oil and gas development produces surface disturbance by way of well pad, road, and pipeline construction, and increased traffic.