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In pedology, a distinct layer of soil forming part of the vertical sequence in a soil profile. Each horizon differs from the one above or below it in colour, chemical composition, texture, and structure. The horizons become differentiated during soil development because conditions vary with depth. There are generally three major layers within any given soil profile, and they are designated, from surface downward, as A, B, and C horizons. The A horizon generally contains more organic matter than the others; it is also the most weathered and leached. The B horizon tends to be a zone of accumulation, since all or part of the mineral matter removed from the A horizon in solution may be deposited in it. The C horizon consists chiefly of the materials from which the A and B layers were derived; called parent materials, these are only slightly altered, because they are in general not subjected to soil-forming processes.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on horizon, visit Britannica.com.