Agronomy and Horticulture Department



Soil Genesis and Development, Lesson 1 - Rocks, Minerals, and Soils

Date of this Version


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Plant and Soil Sciences eLibrary (PASSeL) Lesson


Copyright © 2019 Plant and Soil Sciences eLibrary. Used by permission.

JNRLSE approved 2009

This lesson was developed by Martha Mamo, Timothy Kettler, and Dennis McCallister at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln; Jim Ippolito, Research Soil Scientist, USDA-ARS-NWISRL, Kimberly, Idaho, formerly at Colorado State University; Ron Reuter at Oregon State University; Christoph Geiss at Trinity College-Connecticut; and William Zanner at the University of Minnesota. Development of this lesson was supported by the National Science Foundation Course, Curriculum, and Laboratory Improvement Program (NSF-CCLI), Award Number DUE-0042603. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the view of NSF.



This lesson identifies some common rocks and minerals and how they influence soil formation.

After completing this lesson you should be able to identify some common rocks and minerals.


1. Learn to classify rocks according to the major rock types.

  • igneous
  • metamorphic
  • sedimentary

2. Learn about the influence of rock type on soil properties.

Most soil parent materials were rocks at some time in their history. The minerals in rocks contribute to soil fertility and other soil properties long after the original rock is gone. Consequently, it is a valuable skill to be able to identify a few broad categories of rock. Geologists classify rocks into igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks, according to their origins. In this lesson you will learn how to identify these major rock types and about some common rock-forming minerals.