daveswarthout at gmail.com
Fri Mar 14 00:19:01 UTC 2014
I agree with David Bannon when he says " 'earth' and 'ground' are really
not very informative terms" when it comes to road surfaces but not what he
says about dirt, and with most of what Martin said in his recent post, but
especially that a "dirt road does not contain gravel" even though we
colloquially apply the term dirt road to ones with a gravel surface. A true
dirt road is one that runs atop normal ground and its surface is not
prepared or engineered in any special way.
The dirt roads I described in Alaska are more properly described by your
proposal as "compacted" or "fine gravel" in that they employ a specially
engineered composition of small stones, sand, clay and whatever, compacted
and smoothed to offer a smooth and *relatively* weatherproof surface.
There are a lot of mud roads in Alaska as well. This is a dirt road that
runs through swampy, boggy areas and typically should not be attempted in
an ordinary automobile but rather with 4WD or all-terrain vehicle (ATV).
In the proposal there is this phrase in the description of "gravel" that I
would have you remove: "Broken/crushed rock with sharp edges, known as
ballast on railways" The ballast I typically see on railways could not be
driven on comfortably. The stones are much too big and have, as you
correctly state, sharp edges. I would be in favor of something along the
"similar to compacted above but less carefully engineered, more loosely
Thanks for the good work you're doing with this proposal. I think it will
be a big help in describing surfaces. Now if we could only just deal with
the issue of "smoothness" or "trafficability" in such a straightforward
On Fri, Mar 14, 2014 at 5:38 AM, Fernando Trebien <
fernando.trebien at gmail.com> wrote:
> Well, I've updated the descriptions in the wiki for ground, dirt and
> Does it look ok?
> On Thu, Mar 13, 2014 at 6:31 PM, David Bannon <dbannon at internode.on.net>
> > 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.
> > David
> > 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
> >> >> 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
> >> > "above ground", or "below ground"; it would seem to fit the Oxford
> >> > definition of: the solid surface of the earth (world). The dictionary
> >> > gives a definition of ground as a generic term to be qualified, such
> >> > "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
> >> > 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
> >> > meanings (very ambiguous) when used to describe a surface; with its
> >> > common meaning being very general and not describing the material of
> >> > 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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> Fernando Trebien
> +55 (51) 9962-5409
> "The speed of computer chips doubles every 18 months." (Moore's law)
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Chiang Mai, Thailand
Travel Blog at http://dswarthout.blogspot.com
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