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Loess and Paleosols

Blowing dust image                Chinese Loess Plateau - Wikipedia Commons                Peoria Loess Thickness Map

Loess refers to silt-sized material deposited on the Earth surface by winds. Extensive loess deposits formed during the Ice Ages in areas bordering large, continental glaciers. Paleosols are past soil horizons preserved in a geologic section, indicative of changes in variables such as temperature and precipitation. These deposits provide some of the most dramatic examples of changes in climate and the effect of processes that shape the landscape. Successive layers are often analyzed to provide a history of the winds and surface processes through time.

Obtaining Data at the World Data Center

Search Datasets

  • Google Earth Map
    Locate and download loess studies using a Google Earth map interface. Google Earth must be installed to use this search tool.
  • Interactive Map
    Select study locations by region, proximity to a point or, text-based attributes.
  • Search All Paleoclimatology Data
    Access a free text search of our entire study archive.
  • NCEI Paleo Web Service
    ​Harvest paleoclimate study metadata records using the NCEI Paleo Web Service.

Browse Datasets

Loess Projects

Contributing Data

Investigators who wish to contribute their data to our loess archive can find information on contributing below. Data and study description information can be contributed by emailing your data to