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Latosol is a name given to soils found under tropical rainforests with a relatively high content of iron and aluminium oxides. They are typically classified as oxisols (USDA soil taxonomy)or ferralsols (World Reference Base for Soil Resources).[1] It is largely correct to say that latosols are tropical soils, but the reverse is not true because there are many soils in the tropics that are not latosolic.[2] Latosols are red or yellowish-red in colour throughout and they do not have distinct horizons like a podsol. The red colour comes from the iron oxides in the soil. They are deep soils, often 20-30m deep whereas podsols are 1-2m deep.

The soil generally contains a thin but very fertile layer of humus dropped from plants and animals in the forest above, followed by an infertile second layer due to rapid leaching in the high rainfall. The third level, weathered bedrock, is common to almost all soil types.

The latosol is completely reliant on the rainforest to maintain fertility, as all nutrients leach away quickly when the forest is felled and the layer of humus is no longer being replaced.


  1. ^ Delvaux, B.; Brahy, V. "Mineral Soils conditioned by a Wet (Sub)Tropical Climate". FAO. Retrieved 14 June 2014. 
  2. ^ Sanchez, P.A.; Logan, T.J. (1992). "Myths and science about the chemistry and fertility of soils of the tropics". In Lal, R; Sanchez, P.A. Myths and Science of Soils of the Tropics (PDF). Madison, USA: Soil Science Society of America. p. 36. Retrieved 14 June 2014. 
  • Various (2009). GCSE Geography AQA A Specification: The Revision Guide. CGP. 
  • Gore Uehara; Gavin Gillman (1981), Mineralogy Chemistry and Physics of Tropical Soils With Variable Charge Colloids, Westview Tropical Agriculture Series