Definition of "Alluvium"

Angelica Vazquez real estate agent
Angelica Vazquez, Real Estate Agent Ez Choice Realty

Did you hear a real estate contractor mentioning the territory you want to build a dwelling on is made of alluvium? Or a home inspector told you a section is in danger because there’s a lot of alluvium around it?

And you have no idea what alluvium is?

Alluvium is loose, unconsolidated detrital material, soil and sediments that’s been eroded and reshaped by water. You’ll typically find alluvium made by a mix of sand, gravel, silt, clay and other organic matter – never cemented together into a solid rock – deposited in a non-marine setting.

The term “alluvium” is not typically used for situations where the sediment was formed by another perennial geological process. For instance: a soil reshaped by the erosion of a river stream is not considered alluvial; it’s not called alluvium. The only time we call it alluvium is when the soil was formed via an inconsistent geological process like rain and flooding (which can occur from time to time and, with the reiteration of it, makes its mark on the soil), and heavy tidal action like tsunamis, that can occur only once, but are so strong that bring a lot of detrital material and mix it to the soil, reshaping it. Throughout the coast of the United States, with all sea level and flood risks caused by global warming, there are tons of cases where homeowners need to deal with alluvial occurrences.


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