Soil development parameters include a wide variety of morphological, chemical, and mineralogical parameters, but some of the best indicators of time and surface stability are derived from field morphology. Over long time-spans, the most common time function for soil development is exponential or logarithmic, in which rates decrease with increasing age. Over shorter time-spans in semi-arid and moister climates, Holocene and Pleistocene soil development functions appear as linear segments, with Holocene rates about 10 to 50 times those of Pleistocene rates. In contrast to significant temporal variation in rates, geographical variation in rates within (a) the southern Great Basin and (b) the east Central Valley of California is on the order of 2 or 3 times. When comparing soil development indices of the semi-arid Great Basin to those of moister central California, Holocene rates are similar, but Pleistocene rates are more than 10 times slower in the Great Basin. In a range of climatic settings, the reasons for declining rates over time are several and are complexly related to erosional history, fluxes in water and dust related to climatic changes, rates of primary mineral dissolution, and intrinsic soil processes. ?? 1990.