Jump to Main Content
Mapping parent material as part of a nested approach to soil mapping in the Arkansas River Valley
- Richter, Jenny, Owens, Phillip R., Libohova, Zamir, Adhikari, Kabindra, Fuentes, Bryan
- Catena 2019 v.178 pp. 100-108
- climate, digital elevation models, expert opinion, farms, highlands, land management, landscapes, model validation, prediction, river valleys, sandstone, shale, sheet erosion, soil properties, soil surveys, topography, Arkansas, Arkansas River
- Soil mappers have traditionally relied on tacit knowledge and qualitative assessment of soil-landscape relationships to obtain the physiographic context necessary to predict soil distribution and spatial patterns. This assessment implicitly utilizes a nested hierarchical approach based on differences in the phenomenon scale of soil forming factors where climate, landscape, parent material, and topography are examined in sequence to create a model of soil-landscape relationships. Our objective was to predict parent material distribution using expert knowledge paired with quantitative digital terrain attributes as part of a nested approach to digital soil mapping. The study took place at an 890-hectare research farm in Logan County, Arkansas, which is part of the Arkansas River Valley. Two major groups of parent material are identifiable in the Arkansas River Valley: residual sandstone and shale on erosional uplands, and silty/clayey pedisediment in depositional areas. A 5-m digital elevation model was used to derive thirteen terrain attributes for the study site. Three of the terrain attributes, namely topographic position index, multi-resolution valley bottom flatness, and vertical distance to channel network, were utilized as part of a rule-based approach to model parent material distribution based on preliminary reconnaissance and expert knowledge of the area. The model was validated by sampling 20 locations using a conditioned Latin hypercube sampling (cLHS) design to evaluate the prediction accuracy. Seventy-five percent of cLHS samples were accurately predicted to be residuum or pedisediment. The resulting map also had 90% agreement with the National Cooperative Soil Survey map; however, the digital map was able to provide more spatially explicit information especially on inclusions. Incorporating parent material distribution as part of a nested hierarchical approach to digital soil mapping aids in constraining and predicting soil properties, enables a more straightforward examination of physiographic context and can ultimately lead to more accurate digital soil maps for land management.