Chemical data from four Norwegian soil chronosequences are examined using principal components analysis. Two dominant pedogenic process groups are isolated using this approach: first, surface organic matter accumulation, plant nutrient cycling and organic matter decomposition; second, translocation of organic material, iron and aluminium, in both organically-bound and inorganic forms, and exchangeable cations. The scores from these ‘process’ components are used to construct soil chronofunctions. The chronofunctions demonstrate, in a quantitative manner, the progressive operation of organic and translocation processes over time. There is no evidence existing for an approach towards steady state conditions, during the 230 years available for soil development at these sites. Combination of the two process groups indicates that podzolisation is operating at all four study sites. However, the intensity of this process, as expressed visually in terms of bleaching, varies between the sites in response to differences in translocation potential, cover density and primary productivity of the vegetation, and parent material iron content.