What Kind of Soil Is in the Desert?

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Depending upon the type of desert, soils range from coarse and rocky to fine and salty. Typically, deserts are divided into four categories: arid, semiarid, coastal and cold.

Arid deserts are warm to very hot year-round and receive little precipitation. These deserts include the Mohave, the Great Basin and the Sahara. Their soil is shallow and gravelly and provides good drainage. Semiarid deserts are found in North America, Europe and Asia. Temperatures in these deserts do not get as high as in arid areas. Soil in some semiarid deserts is rocky, while in others it is sandy. Chile's Atacama Desert is an example of a coastal desert. The soil is fine, porous and fairly salty. Cold deserts, such as ones in Greenland and Antarctica, have soil that is heavy, fine and salty.