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horizon

ho·ri·zon / həˈrīzən/ • n. 1. [usu. in sing.] the line at which the earth's surface and the sky appear to meet: the sun rose above the horizon. ∎  (also apparent or visible horizon) the circular boundary of the part of the earth's surface visible from a particular point, ignoring irregularities and obstructions. ∎  (also celestial horizon) Astron. a great circle of the celestial sphere, the plane of which passes through the center of the earth and is parallel to that of the apparent horizon of a place. 2. (often horizons) the limit of a person's mental perception, experience, or interest: she wanted to leave home and broaden her horizons. 3. Geol. a layer of soil or rock, or a set of strata, with particular characteristics. ∎  Archaeol. a level of an excavated site representing a particular period. PHRASES: on the horizon just imminent or becoming apparent: trouble could be on the horizon.

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horizon

horizon, in astronomy, roughly circular line bounding an observer's view of the surface of the earth where the sky and earth seem to meet. This is the visible horizon. At sea the visible horizon is a perfect circle with the observer at its center, but on land it is irregular due to topographic features. The distance to the horizon varies as the square root of the observer's elevation for small elevations; at four times the height the distance to the horizon is twice as great. The celestial horizon, the principal axis in the altazimuth coordinate system, lies halfway between the observer's zenith and nadir. In geology horizon refers to sedimentary deposits of a certain period, usually marked by characteristic fossils.

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horizon

horizon
1. An informal term used in stratigraphy to denote a plane within a body of strata. This may be at a boundary of lithological change, or commonly the term may refer to a thin, distinctive bed within a lithological unit. See also BIOHORIZON.

2. An interface separating two media with different geophysical properties.

3. In soil, a horizontal layer that can be distinguished from the layers below and (except for the surface layer) above it. Identified by a coding system using a capital letter, sometimes followed by a subscript, such layers are used to diagnose soil types. See SOIL HORIZON.

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horizon

horizon XIV. Late ME. orizon(te), — OF. orizon(te) (mod. horizon) — late L. horīzōn, -ont- — Gr. horízōn, sb. use of prp. of horízein bound, limit, f. hōros boundary, limit. In later OF. and Eng. conformed to the L. nom.
So horizontal pert. to the horizon XVI; parallel to the plane of the horizon XVII. — F. or modL.

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horizon

horizon
1. In stratigraphy, an informal term that denotes a plane within a body of strata. It may be at a boundary of lithological change or is (commonly) a thin, distinctive bed within a lithological unit.

2. An interface separating two media with different properties.

3. See soil horizon.

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horizon

horizon In pedology, a relatively uniform soil layer that lies, at any depth in the soil profile, parallel, or nearly so, with the soil surface, and which is differentiated from adjacent horizons above and below by contrasts in mineral or organic properties.

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horizon

horizonItalian, stallion •cañon, canyon, companion •hellion, rebellion •Kenyan •Melanesian, Micronesian, Polynesian •billion, jillion, million, modillion, multimillion, pillion, septillion, sextillion, squillion, trillion, zillion •minion, opinion, pinion •carillon • slumgullion •bunion, Bunyan, grunion, onion, Runyon •roentgen • damson • Kansan • Tarzan •blazon, brazen, emblazon, liaison, raisin •Spätlesen •reason, season, treason •arisen, grison, imprison, mizzen, prison, risen, uprisen •Pilsen • crimson • malison •benison, denizen •orison • citizen •bedizen, greisen, horizon, kaizen •Stockhausen •chosen, frozen •Lederhosen • poison • Susan •cousin, cozen, dozen •Amazon

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Horizon

Horizon

The word horizon generally is defined as the line that separates two layers or divisions. It originated from the Greek word orizein, which means to limit. It is oftentimes used to mean the line that separates Earth (its soil) from the sky (its atmosphere). When used in this sense, the visible horizon is one that is visible to see. That is, it is not blocked out (or obscured) by natural or artificially made objects such as trees, mountains, skyscrapers, and trucks.

Horizon can be defined in two ways when used to separate soil and sky. First, it is defined as a (hypothetical) flat, infinite plane; what is called a geometrical horizon. Secondly, it is defined as a (actual) spherical surface, what is called a true horizon. The difference in the two is very small when viewed casually. However, more distinct differences can occur during scientific applications or in such endeavors as aviation.

Horizon is often used in geology, for example, as a term that means a separation between two layers of soil.

A soil horizon is a horizontal layer of soil with physical or chemical characteristics that separate it from layers above and below. More simply, each horizon contains chemicals, such as rustlike iron oxides, or soil particles that differ from adjacent layers. Soil scientists generally name these horizons (from top to bottom) O, A, B, C, and R, and often subdivide them to reflect more specific characteristics within each layer. Considered together, these horizons constitute a soil profile.

Horizons usually form in residual soils: soils not transported to their present location by water, wind, or glaciers but formed in place by the weathering of the bedrock beneath them. It takes many thousand to one million years to achieve a mature soil with fully developed horizons.

The O horizon (sometimes known as the A0) consists of freshly dead and decaying organic mattermostly plants but also small (especially microscopic) animals. A gardener would call this organic matter compost or humus. Below the O lies the A horizon, or topsoil, composed of organic material mixed with soil particles of sand, silt, and clay. Earthworms, other small animals, and water mix the soil in the A horizon. Water forced down through the A by gravity carries clay particles and dissolved minerals (such as iron oxides) into the B horizon in a process called leaching. Therefore, the A is known as the zone of leaching. These tiny clay particles zigzag downward through the spaces (pores) between larger particles. Sometimes the lower half of the A horizon is called the E (Eluvial) horizon meaning it is depleted of clay and dissolved minerals, leaving coarser grains.

The leached material ends up in the B horizon, the zone of accumulation. The B horizon, stained red by iron oxides, tends to be quite claylike. If the upper horizons erode, plant roots have a tough time penetrating this clay; and rain that falls on the exposed clay can pool on the surface and possibly drown plants or flood basements.

Sometimes the top of the B horizon develops a dense layer called a fragipan (a dense but not cemented layer inhibiting penetration of roots), a claypan (often compacted by vehicles), or a hardpan (cemented by minerals). In arid climates, intense evaporation sucks water and its dissolved minerals upward. This accumulation creates a hardpan impenetrable to any rain percolating (sinking) downward, resulting in easily evaporated pools or rapid runoff. If the hardpan is composed of the calcium-rich mineral calcite, it is called caliche. If composed of iron oxides, it is called an ironpan. Fragipans are extremely difficult for crop roots and water to penetrate.

Partially weathered bedrock composes the C horizon. Smaller bits of rock and clay weathered from those chunks surround variously sized chunks of the rock below. Some of the original rock is intact, but other parts have been chemically changed into new minerals.

The R layer (D horizon) is the bedrock or, sometimes, the sediment from which the other horizons develop. Originally, this rock lay exposed at the surface where it weathered rapidly into soil. The depth from the surface to the R layer depends on the interrelationships between the climate, the age of the soil, the slope, and the number of organisms. Most people do not consider the R layer as soil, but include it in the profile anyway, since the weathering of this bedrock usually produces the soil above it.

In a perfect world, all soils demonstrate these horizons, making the lives of soil scientists and soil students blissful. In reality, however, some soils, like transported soils (moved to their present locations by water, wind, or glaciers), lack horizons because of mixing while moving or because of youth. In other soils, the A and B rest on bedrock, or erosion strips an A, or other complicated variations.

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Horizon

Horizon

Layers in the soil develop because of the additions, losses, translocations, and transformations that take place as the soil ages. The soil layers occur as a result of water percolating through the soil and leaching substances downward. The layers are parallel to the soil surface and are called horizons. Horizons will vary from the surface to the subsoil and from one soil to the next because of the different intensities of the above processes. Soils are classified into different groups based on the characteristics of the horizons.

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Horizon

Horizon

A soil horizon is a horizontal layer of soil with physical or chemical characteristics that separate it from layers above and below. More simply, each horizon contains chemicals, such as rust-like iron oxides, or soil particles that differ from adjacent layers. Soil scientists generally name these horizons (from top to bottom) "O," "A," "B," "C," and" R," and often subdivide them to reflect more specific characteristics within each layer. Considered together, these horizons constitute a soil profile.

Horizons usually form in residual soils: soils not transported to their present location by water , wind , or glaciers but formed "in place" by the weathering of the bedrock beneath them. It takes many thousand to a million years to achieve a mature soil with fully developed horizons.

The O horizon (sometimes known as the A0) consists of freshly dead and decaying organic matter—mostly plants but also small (especially microscopic) animals or the occasional rigid cow. A gardener would call this organic matter (minus the cow) "compost" or "humus." Below the O lies the A horizon, or topsoil, composed of organic material mixed with soil particles of sand , silt, and clay. Frolicking earthworms, other small animals, and water mix the soil in the A horizon. Water forced down through the A by gravity carries clay particles and dissolved minerals (such as iron oxides) into the B horizon in a process called "leaching;" therefore, the A is known as the Zone of leaching. These tiny clay particles zigzag downward through the spaces (pores) between larger particles like balls in a Japanese pachinko game. Sometimes the lower half of the A horizon is called the E ("Eluvial") horizon meaning it is depleted of clay and dissolved minerals, leaving coarser grains.

The leached material ends up in the B horizon, the Zone of Accumulation. The B horizon, stained red by iron oxides, tends to be quite clayey. If the upper horizons erode, plant roots have a tough time penetrating this clay; and rain which falls on the exposed clay can pool on the surface and possibly drown plants or flood basements.

Sometimes the top of the B horizon develops a dense layer called a fragipan—a claypan (compacted by vehicles) or a hardpan (cemented by minerals). In arid climates, intense evaporation sucks water and its dissolved minerals upward. This accumulation creates a hardpan impenetrable to any rain percolating (sinking) downward, resulting in easily evaporated pools or rapid runoff. If the hardpan is composed of the calcium-rich mineral calcite, it is called "caliche." If composed of iron oxides, it is called an "ironpan." Fragipans are extremely difficult for crop roots and water to penetrate.

Partially weathered bedrock composes the C horizon. Variously sized chunks of the rock below are surrounded by smaller bits of rock and clay weathered from those chunks. Some of the original rock is intact, but other parts have been chemically changed into new minerals.

The R layer (D horizon) is the bedrock or, sometimes, the sediment from which the other horizons develop. Originally, this rock lay exposed at the surface where it weathered rapidly into soil. The depth from the surface to the R layer depends on the interrelationships between the climate, the age of the soil, the slope, and the number of organisms. Most people do not consider the R layer as soil, but include it in the profile anyway, since the weathering of this bedrock usually produces the soil above it.

In a perfect world, all soils demonstrate these horizons, making the lives of soil scientists and soil students blissful. In reality, however, some soils, like transported soils (moved to their present locations by water, wind, or glaciers), lack horizons because of mixing while moving or because of youth. In other soils, the A and B rest on bedrock, or erosion strips an A, or other complicated variations. Around the world, scientists classify soils by these horizonal variations.

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Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.