Inceptisols are weakly-developed soils.  Inceptisols are soils that exhibit minimal horizon development. They are more developed than Entisols, but still lack the features that are characteristic of other soil orders. Inceptisols are widely distributed and occur under a wide range of environmental settings. They are often found on fairly steep slopes, young geomorphic surfaces, wet sites, and on resistant parent materials. In Michigan, many Inceptisols are found on sites so wet that the persistent high water table has inhibited their development, or on sites where bedrock is near the surface.
spodic_haplumbrept.JPEG (78308 bytes)

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Inceptisols are soils with weakly developed B horizons, as shown below.
mollic_eudoaquept.JPEG (364761 bytes)

In Michigan, Inceptisols are located primarily in the Saginaw Valley and two areas in the eastern half of the Upper Peninsula. Little eluviation or illuviation has taken place, and the soils are characterized by poor drainage and waterlogging. If drained successfully, they can be productive-as in the navy-bean-producing areas of the Saginaw Valley.  The gray colors, in the soil below, are indicative of wet conditions, and are a "give-away" that this soil is an Inceptisol.
gry_vs_red_SPD_clay.JPEG (45943 bytes)

    The map below, which shows the locations of Inceptisols in the Great Lakes region, should also suggest to you that Inceptisols are also found on steep slopes (the Appalachian region) or on rocky landscapes (northern Minnesota).  What the map does NOT show is that Inceptisols, like the one shown above, are also found on the rocky landscapes of the western UP. 

inceptisols-suborders-map.jpg (64219 bytes)
inceptisols-suborders-legend.jpg (8116 bytes)

In Michigan, most Inceptisols are found on the flat, wet lake plains of the Saginaw Valley, and those near Toledo.  Such soils usually have abundant gray (technically: gleyed) colors.
gry_vs_red_SPD_clay.JPG (445498 bytes)

Wet Inceptisols are called "Aquepts", which is a combination of the "ept" from Inceptisol, and the modifier "aqu", which means "water" or "wet".  The map below shows where the wet Inceptisols occur, in Michigan.  Note also that the wet clay plains of Chippewa County, which were once below a glacial lake, are also mapped as Aquepts.
soilmap-aqualf-aquept-aquoll.jpeg (77996 bytes)

Parts of the text on this page have been modified from L.M. Sommers' book entitled, "Michigan: A Geography".

This material has been compiled for educational use only, and may not be reproduced without permission.  One copy may be printed for personal use.  Please contact Randall Schaetzl ( for more information or permissions.