Known that it is found in sand, silt and clay but is it found in all soils?


1 Answer 1



Silica is everywhere, in everything. The amounts can be close to 100% in quartz sand, or less than 1% in things like peat or limestones (and derived soils). Finding completely pure soils (let's say less than 0.1%) is wishful thinking.

Silicon dioxide (or silica, or silicon oxide, it's all the same thing) can exist in two "forms":

  1. As the compound, most commonly known as quartz, but also all kinds of other materials such as chert, agate, jasper, opal, etc.
  2. As the chemical component in other materials (think oxygen in water). Most of the hard and brittle solid materials you know have silica as a chemical component in them. This includes most rocks, clay minerals, concrete, bricks, ceramics, etc.

Silica the compound (as quartz and others) is one of the most abundant materials on the surface. Sand (the white-yellow stuff) is commonly 99% quartz. Silt and clay are actually definitions of grain size, not chemical composition. Most soils that are silt or clay size also have abundant quartz in it. Quartz is a component of dust. This stuff gets everywhere.

For soils that don't have quartz proper in them, most will have silica as a chemical component. Clay minerals, pyroxenes, amphiboles, micas, feldspars, and all silicate minerals (which are the most common rock forming minerals on Earth).

It is easier to talk about the rocks and soils that don't have any silica in them.

  1. Peat and other organic soils (coal?). These form by decay of plant material, and should not have any silica in them. However, since silica is a component of dust, and dust accumulates when these soils form, there will be some amount of silica. The amount can vary from a few percent to as little as a tenth of a percent, but it will be there.
  2. Evaporites. Things like salt, gypsum, etc. These are chemically precipitated rocks which should not have silica. Then again, dust. There will be some amount.
  3. Carbonates. Limestone is calcium carbonate. Limestones are rarely pure though, and the most common contaminant is - you guessed it - silica. Because of dust. Or just silicate sediments floating in the sea when the limestones form.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.