The soil suites are the highest category in the three-tiered classification. Except for the wet soils in swamps, they are differentiated mainly on the Ethology or age of the parent materials. Problems in the use of parent materials as criteria for differentiation include:
(i) Difficulties of recognition due to the obliteration of parent material by deep and intense weathering. Fortunately this is rare in Belize.
(ii) The distinction of limestones of different ages. This is achieved mainly by reference to the most recent geological maps (Cornec, 1985).
(iii) Difficulties in classifying soils formed in layered, polysequent parent materials. Where a particular combination is sufficiently widespread, it can be taken out as a separate parent material type. For instance, the sequence of sand over Tertiary/Pleistocene 'corned beef' alluvium is taken as the parent material for Puletan Suite, and sand overlying calcareous material is taken as the parent material of Revenge Suite. For less common combinations of layered parent materials, soils are assigned to suites in the following way:
• When the upper layer is more than 1 m thick, it is assumed to be the greatly dominant component of the parent material and the soil is placed in its corresponding suite.
• When the upper layer is less than 30 cm thick, it is assumed to be only a minor influence, and the soil is assigned to the-quite corresponding to the underlying material. The influence of the surface material can be recognized at series level.
• When the upper layer is between 30 and 100 cm thick, it determines the suite of the soil, but the important influence of the underlying material is recognized by setting up a separate sub-quite, e.g. Sennis Subsuite is assigned to Melinda Suite in Tables 2 and 17 because of the 30-100 cm overlay of fresh, fertile riverine alluvium. However the infertile underlying Tertiary/Pleistocene 'corned beef' alluvium is recognized as being important in the ecological relationships and agricultural potential of the soils sufficient to warrant differentiation at sub-quite level.
• There are also soils formed in compound materials which have been intimately mixed rather than layered. This is particularly evident in contact areas between calcareous and siliceous rocks. Because of the solution of the limestone, the bulk of the residual mineral material is siliceous, but the limestone greatly affects the composition of the soil solution and the general chemical ambience for weathering and pedogenesis. These soils are normally placed in the suite determined by the siliceous component but the calcareous influence is recognized at sub-quite or series level. For example, the bulk of the parent material on the franks of the Grano de Oro Hills is derived from the metasediments and the soils are assigned to Ossory Suite. However their properties are considerably affected by the proximity of the limestone, warranting separation as Granodoro and Machiquila Subsuites.
Three suites defined in the Toledo LRA report (King et al., 1986) and one from Northern Belize (King et al., 1992) have been dropped. The freshwater hydromorphic soils of Toledo District were placed in Caway Suite. They have now been grouped with the other permanently freshwater wet soils in Sibal Subsuite of Tintal Suite. Jacinto Suite was defined as being formed in a bisequent parent material of a thin Tertiary-Pleistocene marine alluvial overwash on top of Toledo Beds clastic sediments. Re-examination of these soils in 1987 (Baillie and Wright, 1988) and in 1991 indicated that they mostly form by prolonged weathering, leaching and some gleying of Toledo Beds material. They have therefore been reclassified as Jacinto Subsuite in Toledo Suite. Hiccattee Suite was defined as a minor and heterogeneous group of soils formed round the fringes of Cretaceous limestones, often in parent materials that included siliceous components from the Toledo Beds, the old coastal alluvium and fresh riverine alluvium. A feature common to all of these soils is the abundance of black manganiferous 'buckshot' rounded concretions. It is felt that separation of these soils as a suite contravenes the lithological basis, and that they are best distinguished as series in the appropriate siliceous suites and subsuites.
Vaca Suite was defined in the Northern Belize LRA report to accommodate the soils over the pinkish, hard, microcrystalline Cretaceous limestones that occur close to the northern boundary of the Maya Mountains massif and elsewhere in the Vaca Hills land system. The only sub-quite - Cuxu - is retained but is now included in Chacalte Suite with the other soils over Cretaceous limestone.
It is thought that Table 2 is a definitive list of the soil suites of Belize. No parent material combination of any extent is likely to have evaded notice during the fieldwork for Wright eta/. (1959) and the recent LRA surveys. The most likely circumstances for the creation of new suites are where future soil surveyors or taxonomists in Belize feel that existing suites are too broad, and need to be subdivided at suite level.