Media ReportApril 19, 2012
Jeffrey Howard discusses urban soil in Live Science report examining remnants from vacant lots, structures
The exodus of residents from Detroit has left behind vacant lots and derelict buildings. And while abandoned spaces are generally bad news for a city, they offer opportunity for a soil scientist. "From my point of view it is a blessing," said Jeffrey Howard, an associate professor of geology at Wayne State University. "It's kind of a scary place to do work, but, scientifically, other people are envious of the urban soils we have here." Unlike natural soils, urban ones are excavated, filled, compacted and generally disturbed, sometimes repeatedly, as years pass. But, again unlike natural soils, urban soils can come with clear timelines, often marked by a date on a building's cornerstone or records at the city clerk's office, that make it clear how long ago a site was disturbed and weathering and other natural processes began their work. Howard collaborated with Wayne State University archaeologist Tom Killion.