Case study: The Skin of the Earth field trip

Photo acknowledgement: Tremp Learning Camp (CdA de Tremp) & Cartographic and Geological Institute of Catalonia (ICGC) 

The Skin of the Earth field trip

The Skin of the Earth (in Spanish: La Pell de la Terra) is a two-part field trip for secondary school pupils in Tremp (Lleida, Spain) involving a soil field study, run by the Tremp Learning Camp (CdA de Tremp) and a visit to a soil interpretation centre, organised by the Cartographic and Geological Institute of Catalonia (ICGC). 

The activity is designed to provide pupils with hands-on fieldwork experience and to foster an appreciation for the importance and diversity of soils. Working in small groups, pupils engage in experimentation and observation. The approach is transversal and applied, adaptable to different levels of education, from primary to high school. 


  • Recognise the importance of soil as a resource for humankind.
  • Appreciate its flexibility and diversity.
  • Conduct fieldwork like an edaphologist.
  • Deduce the impacts of human activity on the soil. 


The exploration begins with a field study of soil at a site where a vertical section of clayey soil is exposed. Pupils are presented with a scenario: should this soil be used for building a swimming pool or for growing crops? Working in small groups, pupils collect observations and characteristics such as depth, number of horizons, colour, reaction with HCl, pH, compaction, and texture. The conclusions drawn by each group from their observations are then combined. 

Next, students visit the Pyrenees Soil Interpretation Centre (CISP) to learn about the soil monoliths project, which showcases the diversity of soils and the processes involved in their formation. Again, working in small groups, pupils answer questions focusing on specific characteristics of each soil, including colour, granulometry, biological and human activity, parent material, relief, and processes. 

The collection of monoliths displayed at the CISP, totalling 42 specimens, as of January 2024, serves as an invaluable educational resource in Catalonia and Spain. 

Link for further information

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