The WOSSAC Archive


The World Soil Survey Archive and Catalogue, or WOSSAC, is one of the key facilities of the Cranfield Environment Centre (CEC), incorporating the former National Soil Resources Institute (NSRI), at Cranfield University, UK. We are the largest UK national and international centre for research and development, consultancy and training in soils and their interaction with the atmosphere, land use, geology and water resources. CEC is a centre within Cranfield's School of Water, Energy and Environment, leading Cranfield's research on soil. The WOSSAC collection contains soil-related materials accumulated over the many years of soils activity at Cranfield, from NSRI and its predecessor organisations, the Soil Survey and Land Research Centre (SSLRC) and before that the Soil Survey of England and Wales (SSEW). The materials have arisen via reciprocal sharing arrangement with parallel survey organisations, from personal donations, and from a number of significant institutional donations, foremost amongst which is the collection from HTSPE (DAI), and most recently the Booker Tate soils collection.

This website presents the public face of the WOSSAC archive, explaining the many unique holdings of the collection. Where possible we are making our materials available online in digitised form. If there are fees applicable for their access, then these are made on a cost-recovery basis only. The materials we hold are directly applicable to many contemporary development and environmental issues, including the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the monitoring of environmental changes, and the underpinning of research in Ecosystem Services and Natural Capital.

Cranfield logo

WOSSAC is the registered trademark ® of Cranfield University. To learn more about our wider soils work at Cranfield University, visit our Land Information System (LandIS) web portal at landis.org.uk, or our centre web page at www.cranfield.ac.uk/themes/environment-and-agrifood/landis.

The WOSSAC website was redeveloped using the excellent Engage Bootstrap web template designed by Graygrids.com.

The carousel images on the home page are:

  •   first, from Malta, taken during the Cranfield project MALSIS, working together with the Government of Malta develop a National Soil Information System in preparation for Malta's accession to the EU. The photo shows the Dingli cliffs, where terraced agriculture is practised on the characteristic 'terra rossa' red limestone soils. Many Maltese items are held in the archive and our work continues on the islands, most recently with the FOWARIM project.
  •   second, an oasis in the deep Libyan Sahara. Cranfield has a long association working with Libyan scientific researchers developing early warning systems for desertification and land degradation, as the 'perfect storm' of climate change and societal pressures exerts its toll on the fragile rangeland regions.
  •   third, bog cotton grass growing in the volcanic soils of Iceland, an island with a fascinating volcanic geomorphology and associated soils. The photo is from near Seljalandsfoss on the southern coast. The vegetation here is typical on the black glacial outwash soils in the coastal plain.
  •   fourth, the Explanatory Soil Map of Kenya from the 1982 soil survey report by the Kenyan Soil Survey, item 25207 in the archive. The area around the capital Nairobi is shown, revealing the great diversity of landscapes, with the volcanic Mount Suswa clearly shown to the west.

The WOSSAC logo was designed by Freepik.

National outlines are provided by gadm.


To cite WOSSAC, please use the academic reference:

Hallett, S.H., Sakrabani, R., Keay, C.A. and Hannam, J.A. (2017) Developments in Land Information Systems: Case studies in land resource management capabilities and options. Soil Use and Management. doi: 10.1111/sum.12380. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/sum.12380/full 

To cite the WOSSAC website:


Commencing in January, 2004, Cranfield University's ‘World Soil Survey Archive and Catalogue’ (WOSSAC) project aims to develop an archive and catalogue of all substantial soil surveys and reports made overseas, with particular reference to those by British companies and personnel, to provide a safe repository for endangered copies, and to make the accrued information available for consultation by interested parties.

Every effort is taken to respect the Copyright of the materials within the WOSSAC archive, where identification of the holders of the Copyright is clear, and to contact, where possible, the originators.

Whilst such effort has been taken to contact the originators and Copyright holders of the articles held in WOSSAC, if you believe you are the Copyright holder, or know of the Copyright holder, please contact the WOSSAC office via our contact form (please indicate the item reference number concerned).

Cranfield implies no transfer of Copyright or ownership to persons using the Archive resources. Cranfield advises archive users to respect Copyright and to either use materials for their own personal reference, or where used, to do so with full acknowledgement and citation details. Details on citing WOSSAC itself are given above.

Errors and omissions excluded

External links

Presented below are online links to other online sources of worldwide soils information.

Other Cranfield University web resources

National Soil Resources Institute (NSRI), Cranfield University UK, now fully part of Cranfield's Soil and Agrifood Institute, we are the largest UK national and international centre for research and development, consultancy and training in soils and their interaction with the atmosphere, land use, geology and water resources.

LandIS - Cranfield University's Land Information System

Soils Worldwide - home of the SoilPIC project, a substantial collection of soil profile and landscape photographs

CatchIS - Cranfield University's Catchment Information System

Soil-Net Educational Soils Portal - free online educational resources for school students, teachers and parents

Other web resources of relevance

British Society of Soil Science (BSSS)

Tropical Agriculture Association (TAA)

ISRIC - World Soil Information

European Digital Archive on Soil Maps of the World (EuDASM)

FAO Soil Maps of the World

IRD France, Institut de Recherche pour le développement

International Union of Soil Scientists (IUSS)

If you would like to add a link, or wish to have a link changed, please contact us