Accessible information on Galápagos soils is very limited. Much of the existing, although still scarce, information is several decades old and not easily retrieved. The aim of this paper is to present a critical synthesis. Three local soilforming factors (parent material, climate, and vegetation) are briefly highlighted, followed by a more detailed discussion of the hypsometric soil sequence on Santa Cruz, the only island where systematic information was recorded by a Belgian geopedological mission in 1962. Five zones are distinguished from the coast toward the top of the island: a dry coastal area, containing superficial and interstitial reddish, smectite-bearing soils between basalt blocks; a transition zone of brown, also smectite-bearing soils; and three subsequent higher zones covered by deeper, brown soils with probably andosolic characteristics. Trace element analyses point to a uniform composition of the parent material and a more progressed weathering on the higher slopes. Micromorphological characteristics of the soils are discussed. Soils of Santa Fé are comparable with those of the coastal zone of Santa Cruz but show higher amounts of P and S, probably of avian origin. Deeper, reddish clayey soils cover San Cristóbal and are at least partly pre- Holocene. On the younger islands, no soils seem to be present.
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Vol. 68 • No. 1