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Types of Soil in the Caribbean

By Lauren Wise ; Updated September 21, 2017
The Caribbean has many types of soil to help support the ecosystem.

The Caribbean is a popular destination for those wanting to escape to an island oasis and natural paradise. With over 115 islands including Puerto Rico, Jamaica and Cuba, this tropical environment has several types of rich soil that help support plant life, animals and the rest of the ecosystem. It is important to know the most common soil types, whether you are trying to landscape or understand the composition of the islands better.

Cristal Soil

Cristal soil is not as pristine as the name makes it sound. This soil is usually in coves or on slopes and has layers that stack deep and prevent proper drainage. It is full of clay and loam, with several layers of different types of clay which range in color from gray to brown to tan. Underneath these layers about 2 feet down, the clay mixes with gravel and appears yellow. About 5 feet down from this is a reddish clay thick with loam, more so than any of the other layers. This type of soil is not adequate for growing much of anything unless you add proper drainage materials to it.

Zarzal Soil

Zarzal soil is ideal for gardening and landscaping, as it drains well, is found commonly on mountainsides and layers deeply. The dark red hue on the surface of the soil makes this type of soil easy to identify. Although this soil is composed of a lot of clay, it is loose so it can properly drain. About 3 feet underneath the first layer, a brownish yellow clay is present for almost an additional 6 feet. The layers' color ranges from yellow to brown to gray.

Humatas Soil

This type of soil is commonly on ridges and hillsides, with a silty texture and dark chocolate brown color for about 4 inches. The next subsoil layer is about a foot thick, silty with chunks of clay and is a yellow color. The layers stay a consistent texture of silt and clay, but with varying colors of red and bright yellow up to 6 feet deep.