Earth's Critical Zone

Soil forms the heart of the Earth's Critical Zone. The Critical Zone is defined as heterogeneous, near surface environment in which complex interactions involving rock, soil, water, air, and living organisms regulate the natural habitat and determine the availability of life-sustaining resources (NRC, 2001). See the example image below (Rivelin Valley, Sheffield, copyright: Menon).

It can take up to 500 years to form two centimtres of topsoil and undoubtedly it is one of the most complex substances on our planet. We need to step-up our soil research towards a better understanding of the soil processes and develop quantification tools for effective management of soils.

CZ image

It provides valuable ecosystem services as given in diagram given below (Banwart et al., 2012). In Europe, every year, it is estimated €0.7–14.0 billion are lost via soil erosion, €3.4–5.6 billion is lost due to organic matter decline, €2.4– 17.3 billion is lost due to soil contamination and, the cost for soil compaction, soil sealing, the decline in biodiversity are beyond estimates. Read more about thematic strategy on soil protection by European Union.



Read more about the critical Zone and research here:




New CZ proejct (2016-19) with China (details soon)

SoilTrEC Project (2010-14)


Watch a video about Critical Zone here

Click hereto join Critical Zone Exploratory Network (CZEN)!