Major Soils, Properties, and Classification

  • Mohammad Hassan Roozitalab
  • Norair Toomanian
  • Vahid Reza Ghasemi Dehkordi
  • Farhad Khormali
Part of the World Soils Book Series book series (WSBS)


Iran is a large territory with diverse climatic condition, geology and vegetation cover which have led to formation of different soils that cover about 58% of the total land surface. The remaining areas are composed of bare mountains, sand dunes, playas/salinas, etc. Four major agro-climatic zones are distinguished: (i) arid region, (ii) semiarid region, (iii) humid and sub-humid region of the southern coasts of the Caspian Sea, and (iv) tropical semiarid region of the South. The Aridisols (Calcids, Gypsids, Salids, and Cambids), Entisols (Orthents and Fluvents), and Inceptisols (Xerepts, Ustepts, Udepts, and Aquepts) constitute about 97% of the total soil resources of the country, i.e., in the arid and semiarid zones. Other soil orders including Mollisols, Alfisols, and Ultisols, which have mainly developed in the Caspian Sea region, constitute less than 3% of the total soil cover. In this chapter, we define the extent of the soil orders, suborders, and dominant great groups in each region and describe main morphological and physicochemical properties of soils representing various soil great groups and their potentials for agricultural use.


Soil properties Soil classification Soils of the arid to semi-arid regions Soils of Caspian region 



The authors would like to express their appreciation and thanks to Dr. Kamran Eftekhari, Head of the Soil Genesis and Land Classification Department of Soil and Water Research Institute (SWRI) for his collaboration and providing the high-resolution maps.


  1. Abbaslou H, Abtahi A (2007) Origin and distribution of clay minerals in calcareous, gypsiferous, saline soils and sediments of Bakhtegan Lake Bank, Southern Iran. Iran Agric Res 25(2):70–86Google Scholar
  2. Abbaslou H, Abtahi A, Peinado FJM, Owliaie H, Khormali F (2013) Mineralogy and characteristics of soils developed on Persian Gulf and Oman Sea Basin, Southern Iran: Implications for soil evolution in relation to sedimentary parent material. Soil Sci 178(10):568–584CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Abtahi A (1977) Effect of a saline and alkaline ground water on soil genesis in semiarid southern Iran. Soil Sci Soc Am J 41:583–588CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bakhshipour R (1993) Genesis and mineralogy of some soils in Lahijan area, Gilan, Iran, MSc Dissertation, Faculty of Agriculture, Isfahan University of TechnologyGoogle Scholar
  5. Banaei MH (1998) Soil moisture and temperature regimes map of Iran. Soil and Water Institute, Tehran, IranGoogle Scholar
  6. Banaei MH (2005) Soil resources of Iran and their potential, In: Banaei MH, Moameni A, Bybordi M, Malakouti MJ (ed) The soils of Iran (in Farsi), Soil and water research Ins. Tehran. Iran, pp 161–212Google Scholar
  7. Boettinger JL, Southard RJ (1995) Phyllosilicate distribution and origin in Aridisols on a granitic pediment, Western Mojave Desert. Soil Sci Soc Am J 59:1189–1198CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chorom M, Baghernejad M, Jafari S (2009) Influence of rotation cropping and sugar cane production on the clay mineral assemblage. Appl Clay Sci 46:385–395CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. De Pauw E, Ghaffari A, Ghasemi VR (2004) Agroclimatic zones map of Iran, explanatory notes. ICARDAGoogle Scholar
  10. Dewan ML, Famouri J (1964) The soils of Iran. FAO, RomeGoogle Scholar
  11. Emadi M, Baghernejad M, Bahmaniar MA, Morovvat A (2012) Changes in soil inorganic phosphorous pools along a precipitation gradient in northern Iran. Int J Forest, Soil Erosion 2(3):143–147Google Scholar
  12. Esfandiarpour I, Salehi MH, Karimi A, Kamali A (2013) Correlation between soil taxonomy and world reference base for soil resources in classifying calcareous soils: a case study of arid and semi-arid regions of Iran. Geoderma 197–198:126–136CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Farpoor, MH (1995) Soil geomorphology relationship in Godar-e-Kabk area, Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari Province, Iran. MSc dissertation, Isfahan University of TechnologyGoogle Scholar
  14. Farpoor MH, Krouse HR (2008) Stable isotope geochemistry of sulfur bearing minerals and clay mineralogy of some soils and sediments in Loot Desert, central Iran. Geoderma 146:283–290CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Farpoor MH, Neyestani M, Eghbal MK, Esfandiarpour I (2012) Soil–geomorphology relationships in Sirjan playa, south central Iran. Geomorphology 138:223–230CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Gharaee HA, Mahjoory RA (1984) Characteristics and geomorphic relationships of some representative Aridisols in southern Iran. Soil Sci Soc Am J 48:115–119CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hashemi SS, Baghernejad M, NajafiGhiri M (2013) Clay mineralogy of gypsiferoussoils under different soil moisture regimes in Fars Province, Iran. J Agric Sci Technol 15:1053–1068Google Scholar
  18. Heidari A, Mahmoodi Sh, Roozitalab MH, Mermut AR (2008) Diversity of clay minerals in the vertisols of three different climatic regions in Western Iran. J Agric Sci Technol 10:269–284Google Scholar
  19. Hojati S, Khdemi H, Fazcano A, Ayubi S, Landi A (2013) Factors affecting the occurrence of Palygorskite in central Iranian soils developed on Tertiary sediments. Pedosphere 23(3):359–371CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kehl M, Sarvati R, Ahmadi H, Frechen M, Skowronek A (2005) Loess paleosol-sequences along a climatic gradient in northern Iran. Eiszeit Gegenw 55:149–173Google Scholar
  21. Khademi H, Mermut AR (1998) Source of palygorskite in gypsiferous Aridisols and associated sediments from central Iran. Clay Miner 33:561–578CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Khademi H, Mermut AR (2003) Micromorphology and classification of Argids and associated gypsiferous Aridisols from central Iran. Catena 54:439–455CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Khormali F (2003) Mineralogy, micromorphology and development of the soils in arid and semiarid regions of Fars Province, southern Iran. Ph.D. dissertation, Soil Science Department of Shiraz UniversityGoogle Scholar
  24. Khormali F, Abtahi A (2003) Origin and distribution of clay minerals in calcareous arid and semi-arid soils of Fars Province, southern Iran. Clay Miner 38:511–527CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Khormali F, Ajami M (2011) Pedogenetic investigation of soil degradation on a deforested loess hill slope of Golestan Province, northern Iran. Geoderma 167–168:274–283CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Khormali F, Kehl M (2011) Micromorphology and development of loess-derived surface and buried soils along a precipitation gradient in northern Iran. Quatern Int 234:109–123CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Khormali F, Nabiollahi K (2009) Degradation of Mollisols in western Iran as affected by land use change. J Agrical Sci Tech (JAST) 11:363–374Google Scholar
  28. Khormali F, Abtahi A, Mahmoodi Sh, Stoops G (2003) Argillic horizon development in calcareous soils of arid and semiarid regions of southern Iran. Catena 53:273–301CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Khormali F, Ghorbani R, Omrani RA (2005) Variations in soil properties as affected by deforestation on loess-derived hill slopes of Golestan Province, northern Iran. Sociedade and Natureza, Uberlândia, special Issue, pp 440–445Google Scholar
  30. Khormali F, Abtahi A, Stoops G (2006) Micromorphology of calcic features in highly calcareous soils of Fars Province, southern Iran. Geoderma 132:31–45CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Khormali F, Ghergherechi S, Kehl M, Ayoubi S (2012) Soil formation in loess-derived soils along a sub humid to humid climate gradient, northeastern Iran. Geoderma 179–180:113–122CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Mahjoory RA (1975) Clay mineralogy, physical and chemical properties of some soils in arid regions of Iran Soil Science Society of America Proceedings 39:1157–1164Google Scholar
  33. Mahmoodi Sh, Heidari A, Masihabadi MH, Stoops G (2007) Soil-landscape relationship as indicated by micro-morphological data on selected soils from Karaj basin, Iran. J Agric Sci Technol 9:153–164Google Scholar
  34. Manafi Sh (2009) Mineralogical and micro-morphological investigation on arid and semiarid soils and possibility of using these data for reconstruction of paleoclimate in some parts of southern Alborz (Qazvin). Ph.D. dissertations, Faculty of Soil and Water Engineering Department of Soil Science, University of TehranGoogle Scholar
  35. Manafi Sh, Mahmodi Sh, Sarmadian F, Heidari A, Poch RM (2008) Paleoclimatic significance of secondary calcium carbonate coatings in some arid and semiarid soils in southern Alborz, Takestan-Iran. In: Xiubin He (eds) Proceedings of 13th international conference on soil micromorphology. Chengdu, ChinaGoogle Scholar
  36. Mesgaran M, Madani k, Hashemi H, Azadi P (2016) Evaluation of land and precipitation for agriculture in Iran, Stanford -Iran 2040 Project, working paper 2Google Scholar
  37. Milani PM, Eftekhari K, Fatehi SH, Sepahvand M, Turkelboom F, De Pauw E, Bruggeman A (2010) Semi-detailed soil surveys of Merek and Honam watersheds, Karkheh river basin, Iran. ICARDA, Aleppo, Syria. vi 79 ppGoogle Scholar
  38. Ministry of Jihad-e Agriculture -MOJA (2015) Annual agricultural statistics—crops and fruit trees (Vol. 1 and 3), Tehran, IranGoogle Scholar
  39. Moazallahi M, Farpoor MH (2012) Soil genesis and clay mineralogy along the xeric—aridic climo-toposequence in south central Iran. J Agricul Sci Technol 14:683–696Google Scholar
  40. Moghiseh E (2005). Study of Physico—chemical, mineralogical, micromorphological characteristics and classification of some rich- gypsum soils (Gypseous) in Bam area (southeastern Iran). MSc Thesis, Department of Soil Science Eng. Tehran UniversityGoogle Scholar
  41. Moghiseh E, Heidari A (2012) Polygenetic saline gypsiferous soils of the Bam region, southeast Iran. J Soil Sci Plant Nutr 12(4):729–746Google Scholar
  42. Nadimi M, Farpoor MH (2011) Genesis and clay mineralogy of soils on different geomorphic surfaces in Mahan-Joupar area, central Iran. Arab J Geoscience 6:825–833CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Owliaie HR (2012) Micromorphology of pedogenic carbonate features in soils of Kohgiluyeh, Southwestern Iran. J Agr Sci Tech 14:225–239Google Scholar
  44. Owliaie HR, Abtahi A, Heck RJ (2006) Pedogenesis and clay mineralogical investigation of soils formed on gypsiferous and calcareous materials, on a transect southwestern Iran. Geoderma 134:62–81CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Raheb A, Heidari A (2011) Clay mineralogy and its relationship with potassium forms in some paddy and non-paddy soils of northern Iran. Aust J Agricul Eng 2(6):169–175Google Scholar
  46. Razavipour SM (2009) An investigation of soil evaluation along a toposequence in Sedeh and Comfirooz plains (Fars province, Iran). MSc dissertation, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Faculty of Agricultural Engineering and Technology, Department of Soil Science Engineering. Tehran UniversityGoogle Scholar
  47. Rezaei N, Roozitalab MH, Ramezanpour H (2012) Effect of land use change on soil properties and clay mineralogy of forest soils developed in the Caspian Sea Region of Iran. J Agr Sci Tech 14:1617–1624Google Scholar
  48. Roozitalab MH, Serghini H, Keshavarz A, Eser V, de-Pauw E (2013) Elements of research strategy and priorities for sustainable agricultural development of highlands in Central. West Asia and North Africa, ICARDAGoogle Scholar
  49. Sarmadian F (1997) Soil genesis, classification and land suitability assessment in different climates of Gorgan and Gonbad in North of Iran (in Persian), Ph.D. dissertation, Soil Sci. Dept, Tehran University, Karaj, IranGoogle Scholar
  50. Singer A (1989) Palygorskite and sepiolite group minerals. In: Dixon JB, and Weed SB (eds.) Minerals in soil environment. Soil Sci Soc Am J, pp 829–872Google Scholar
  51. Soil Institute of Iran (1970) Manual of multipurpose land classification, joint project with FAO/UNDP, Publication No. 212Google Scholar
  52. Soil Institute of Iran (1979) Manual of land classification for irrigation, third revised edition, publication No. 205Google Scholar
  53. Soil Survey Staff (2014) Keys to soil taxonomy, United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service, 12th edition, USAGoogle Scholar
  54. Soil and Water Research Institute, SWRI (2000) Soil resources and use potentiality map of Iran (1:1000, 000). Tehran, IranGoogle Scholar
  55. Soil and Water Research Institute-SWRI (2015) Dominant soil order map of Iran, Karaj, IranGoogle Scholar
  56. Statistical Center of Iran, SCI (2014) Results of detailed census on agriculture in 2014 (in Persian), Tehran, IranGoogle Scholar
  57. Stoops G (2003) Guidelines for analysis and description of soil and regolith thin section, handbook for soil thin section description. SSSA Inc., Madison, Wisconsin, USAGoogle Scholar
  58. Toomanian, N (1995) Origin of gypsum and evolution of gypsiferous soils in northwest area of Isfahan. Msc thesis, Isfahan University of Technology. Isfahan, Iran. 219 pagesGoogle Scholar
  59. Toomanian N (2007) Landscape evolution, pedodiversity and mapping of some pedogenic attributes of soils in central Iran. Ph.D. dissertation. Isfahan University of Technology, Isfahan, IranGoogle Scholar
  60. Toomanian N (2011) Gypsiferous soils (specifics and usages). Pelk Publication Agency, TehranGoogle Scholar
  61. Toomanian N, Jalalian A, Eghbal MK (2001) Genesis of gypsum enriched soils in north-west Isfahan, Iran. Geoderma 99:199–224CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Toomanian N, Jalalian A, Eghbal MK (2003) Application of the WRB (FAO) and US taxonomy systems to gypsiferous soils in northwest Isfahan, Iran. J Agric Sci Technol 5:51–66Google Scholar
  63. Yusefifard M (2012) Evolution of soils developed on some igneous rocks, Ormie-Dokhtar strip, north-west Iran. Ph.D. dissertation, Isfahan University of Technology, Isfahan, IranGoogle Scholar
  64. Zamanian K (2005) Study of Fashand-Hashtgerd soils and investigation on the mechanisms of petrocalcic horizon formation in these soils. MSc dissertation, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Faculty of Agricultural Engineering and Technology. Tehran University, IranGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mohammad Hassan Roozitalab
    • 1
  • Norair Toomanian
    • 2
  • Vahid Reza Ghasemi Dehkordi
    • 1
  • Farhad Khormali
    • 3
  1. 1.Soil and Water Research InstituteTehranIran
  2. 2.Soil and Water Research DepartmentIsfahan Agricultural and Natural Resources Research and Education Center, AREEOIsfahanIran
  3. 3.Gorgan University of Agricultural Sciences and Natural ResourcesGorganIran

Personalised recommendations