Soil Monoliths Collections at the University of Alberta

Curator - Dr. Scott Chang, If you require additional information please contact Dr. Chang

Guided Tour:  View samples of soil monoliths collections and artifacts in the Earth Sciences Building, University of Alberta here.

Soil Profiles of Canada (ISSS) - The Department of Renewable Resources has a comprehensive collection of soil profiles representing the major soils in Canada. Augmented by representative landscape photographs and analytical data, this collection was assembled in conjunction with the 11th International Congress of Soil Science (Edmonton 1978). The display was given to the Department of Soil Science by Canadian Society of Soil Science in 1978. A set of Tour Guide Books was published that covered numerous transects across Canada and describes many of the soils contained in the collection. This collection is unique in Canada and is available for viewing in display cases on the second floor hallway of the Earth Sciences Building. 
The soil profiles of Canada collection is a valuable reference source in undergraduate courses offered by the Department of Renewable Resources, other related disciplines and of interest to campus visitors. The approximate replacement value of this collection is: $200,000.

Wyatt Alberta Soil Monolith Collection - A comprehensive collection of soil profiles representing the major and prominent soils of Alberta resides in Earth Sciences Room 2-36. This collection is used extensively for teaching and extension at the undergraduate and graduate level. This collection spans a period of collection in excess of 60 years. Many profiles are unique in that they represent soils before cultivation occurred. A reference set is used for display, while similar or duplicate profiles are used in class and made available to select groups, outside the Department of Renewable resources, for teaching and extension activities. 
Collection of these profiles (some from very remote locations) involved not only University staff but also Agriculture Canada and Alberta Research Council Soil Survey staff. The collection was inventoried and reclassified to adhere to the current classification system in 1984. This collection consists of approximately 220 profiles and would cost approximately $450,000 to replace.

International Soil Monolith Collection - The Department of Renewable Resources has a small collection of 12 tropical profiles from three countries.  As these soil monoliths are classified according to Soil Taxonomy, a USA Soil Classification System, panels describing the 12 Orders of Soil Taxonomy are mounted adjacent to each of the international displays.  These provide a reference point for the international soil monoliths which have been classified to a Sub-Order level.  The text and graphics for the three soil monolith displays was prepared by Dr. Noorallah Juma and Dr. Jim Robertson in 2008 and this project was completed in March 2009.

  • The three Indonesian monoliths were collected Dr. J.D. Newton and are displayed on the wall which is at the east end of the fourth floor corridor in the Earth Sciences Building. An acknowledgement panel for Soil Science Collections is also a part of the Indonesian Soil Monoliths.
  • The five soil monoliths collected by Dr. C. F. Bentley are located on the third floor along the wall which is adjacent to the northeast entrance. Also,  there is a new display titled 'Pedosphere Supports Life' in a lighted glass cabinet adjacent to the Sri Lankan soil monolith display on the third floor of the Earth Sciences Building.
  • The four monoliths collected by Bryan Hamman from Thailand  are located on the second floor along the wall which is adjacent to the northeast entrance of the Earth Sciences Building. 

Soil Monoliths in the Hallway of the Fourth Floor of Earth Sciences Building - A special collection of four Alberta profiles form a focal point on the fourth floor along the wall which is adjacent to the northeast entrance.  These monoliths were collected by the Soil Science pioneers, Dr. F. A. Wyatt and Dr. J. D. Newton, for the First International Congress of Soil Science in 1927. Unlike all other profiles, these four are contained in large wooden cases with glass fronts and have not been preserved with any of the usual impregnating compounds.

A display for these soil monoliths was also completed in 2008 and is one part of the cluster of artifacts on the fourth floor.  The two other components of the fourth floor cluster are  a time line of Soil survey from 1800-2006 developed by USDA-NRCS and a collection of Soil Science books used by the Soil Science pioneers which are located in a lighted cabinet.

Other Soil Science Artifacts in the Earth Sciences Building - Six panels produced by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada showing Soil Landscape Illustrations from different regions of Canada were mounted along the north wall of the third floor corridor of the Earth Sciences Building in 2008.  In addition to this there are a couple of very large posters on the third floor showing activities at the University of Alberta's Breton Plots.  The third floor also has a display of Dr. Nyborg's discovery of sulfur deficiency in cereals and oilseed crops.

Two panels donated by Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development showing Alberta Soil Ecozones and Alberta Topography are displayed in the fourth floor corridor.  Room 4-42 was designated as the  J.D. Newton Conference Room by the Board of Governors in 2001 and houses the Soil Science collection of reprints, theses and journals.  Room 2-36 was designated as the Wyatt Lecture Room by the Board of Governors in 2001 and is enriched with lighted displays of soil monoliths from Alberta, a Soil Zone map published in 1946 , a modern Alberta soils map, a Prairie ecozones map, a poster showing soil as a natural system and a poster showing pictures of representative soil profiles from different parts of the world.  The biography of Dr. Wyatt is posted at the both entrances of this lecture room.  View more detailed biographies of the Soil Science Pioneers here.

Of historical interest are four plant/root displays, prepared in 1937, depicting development and competition over time. These displays are encased in glass and located in the fourth floor hallway of the Earth Sciences Building.

Acknowledgements - The most significant achievement for the Soil Monolith Collections was the completion of the above mentioned activities under the leadership of the past curator, Dr. Noorallah Juma. He has been piecing this guided tour of Soil Science Collections since 1995 and accelerated its completion by securing and leveraging funds from a number of sources in 2008 just before his retirement from the University of Alberta. He also took the initiative of getting a team to work on every aspect of the project. The key people who actively helped Dr. Juma were Dr. Jim Robertson, Judy Huck (Department of Renewable Resources Graphics Artist and Webmaster), Ian Rutherford (Gelatea Galleries) for framing, and Richard Kruitbosch and his colleagues from Facility Management personnel who mounted the displays. The financial support from the Friends of the University of Alberta Museum Collections; Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences; Department of Renewable Resources; Friends of Dr. Noorallah Juma, Breton Plots Soil Conservation Society and other individual donors is gratefully acknowledged. 

Dr. Scott Chang is the curator for the Soil Science Collection. If you require further information please contact Dr. Chang. The University of Alberta Museums and Collections Services website for the Collection is available here.