This course focuses on the factors that influence soil distributions at scales ranging from a hillside to an entire continent. The course begins with an introduction to soil morphology and other basic concepts in soil geography. Then, before the snow and cold weather arrives we will spend significant time digging and describing as many different soils as possible, including a weekend field trip to the Adirondacks. Using the data we collect and our new-found mastery of basic soil concepts we will venture into the realm of soil genesis. Our purpose will be to not only understand soil formation, but also to make sense of differences in soil character between our various sample sites. Our overall objective is to learn how to differentiate soils on the landscape (geography’s “what is where”) and to understand the underlying processes (the “why” in geography.Students who successfully complete this seminar will satisfy one half of the Natural Sciences & Mathematics area of inquiry requirement.
Professor Scull is a physical geographer interested in using geospatial tools (geographic information systems and remote sensing) to study environmental change. His research program is generally focused on topics within soil geography and biogeography. For example, he is part of an interdisciplinary and international team of researchers studying church forest dynamics in the highlands of northern Ethiopia. Recently, however, he has also become interested in critical GIS, in particular the erosion of locational privacy.