Phaeozems occur all over the world, but especially on the more moist side of the steppe regions, bordering Chernozems.
- a mollic horizon (deep, brownish or blackish surface horizon with a significant accumulation of organic matter and high base saturation);
- a base saturation of 50 percent or more between 25 and 100 cm from the soil surface;
- a calcium carbonate-free soil matrix at least to a depth of 100 cm from the soil surface, or to a contrasting layer between 25 and 100 cm;
- no diagnostic horizons other than an albic, argic, cambic or vertic horizon, or a petrocalcic horizon in the substratum.