In accepting the Kirk Bryan Award in 1988 from the Quaternary Geology and Geomorphology Division of the Geological Society of America, Pete Birkeland commented that he was passing the soil geomorphology baton on to the next generation. Fortunately for us, the hand-off is still incomplete, as evidenced by the publication of a new third edition of his award winning book, Soils and Geomorphology.
Birkeland's book is notable for being a survey of soil science from a geological perspective. Thus the focus is on field aspects of soil science, particularly on pedology the study of soil genesis. The book is studded with field examples, drawn from the literature and from his own nearly forty years of fieldwork in the American West and around the world. The issues he addresses are often geological in nature: dating landforms, reading past climates from information in soils, and using soils as stratigraphic markers. His philosophy is that the principles of soil genesis must be learned and understood before one can interpret the geological record in soils.