[Tagging] surface=ground/dirt/earth

David Bannon dbannon at internode.on.net
Thu Mar 13 21:31:21 UTC 2014

In Australia, we refer to a "dirt road" meaning just about any unsealed
road. Very rarely use "earth" or "ground". Ground sounds to me more like
the level than the surface, I'd argue most roads are at ground level !

We often describe a gravel road as a dirt road, as such a road goes
through its normal maintenance cycle, the gravel can become almost
invisible, lost in the dust or mud if it rains.

At the risk of complicating the matter, I'd rather distinguish between
"made" and "unmade" dirt roads. A road that has been graded and made
dome shaped (as the Roman's taught us) is "made" - usually an easy
drive. Some drivers get nervous on unmade roads as they develop pot
holes much quicker and the surface can deliver "surprises".

So I suggest 'dirt', 'earth' and 'ground' are really not very
informative terms.


On Thu, 2014-03-13 at 16:57 -0300, Fernando Trebien wrote:
> So:
> - "earth" is a close synonym of "soil" (though it's not exactly the same thing)
> - "ground" could refer to: soil/earth (no vegetation), soil/earth +
> vegetation (say, grass)
> - "dirt" could refer to: soil/earth, clay, sand, arguably gravel (it
> may not be correct but it may be a good idea to clarify this in the
> wiki)
> So earth, grass, clay, sand, and gravel, are much more specific than
> ground and dirt, both of which are just slightly more specific than
> unpaved.
> Could "dirt" involve "mud"?
> Could "ground" involve "rock"? (Similar, but likely flatter, than
> this: http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Proposed_features/bare_rock)
> On Thu, Mar 13, 2014 at 4:04 PM, Murry McEntire
> <murry.mcentire at gmail.com> wrote:
> >
> >
> >
> > On Thu, Mar 13, 2014 at 11:01 AM, Fernando Trebien
> > <fernando.trebien at gmail.com> wrote:
> >>
> >> It seems that:
> >> - if a surface can be grass or paved, asphalt, concrete,
> >> paving_stones, etc., then it seems the only reason to state "the
> >> surface consists of ground" is if it's unpaved and without vegetation,
> >> right?
> >> - the American usage of "dirt" (as in "your car will get dirty") is a
> >> broad description for 3 more specific values: earth, gravel and
> >> compacted (different from loose gravel or soil)
> >>
> >
> > Ground has multiple meanings some of which are very broad. When speaking of
> > "I walk the ground", "breaking ground" (as in construction or farming),
> > "above ground", or "below ground"; it would seem to fit the Oxford
> > definition of: the solid surface of the earth (world). The dictionary also
> > gives a definition of ground as a generic term to be qualified, such as
> > "marshy ground". (And to muddle things, when you think it might mean a
> > natural surface - the Oxford gives the (British) definition of "the floor of
> > a room".)
> >
> > Upon seeing surface=ground for a road, my first reaction is to wonder what
> > is meant by that? Upon pondering, it is a land surface of the world that is
> > not raised or improved but may be worn and could be almost any natural
> > surface which may include ruts through vegetation.
> >
> > Of course I could ponder more and give another dozen definitions; many
> > conflicting.
> > "Ground" is a poor term because it has so many similar, but still different
> > meanings (very ambiguous) when used to describe a surface; with its most
> > common meaning being very general and not describing the material of the
> > surface.
> >
> > As to American usage of "dirt", the example is poor -- if you stick with the
> > noun, not the related adjective, saying "your pants have dirt on them" would
> > likely be interpreted as loam, clay, soil, or the like; not gravel. To me, a
> > "dirt road" is most often a natural soil (clay, loam, sand, etc.). It may be
> > compacted or graded. I would refer to a road surfaced with gravel as a
> > "gravel road".
> >
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