Three-dimensional prediction of soil physical, chemical, and hydrological properties in a forested catchment of the Santa Catalina CZO

Friday, 19 December 2014
Christopher Shepard1, Molly Holleran2, Rebecca A Lybrand1 and Craig Rasmussen1, (1)University of Arizona, Soil, Water and Environmental Science, Tucson, AZ, United States, (2)Geosyntec Consultants San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, United States
Understanding critical zone evolution and function requires an accurate assessment of local soil properties. Two-dimensional (2D) digital soil mapping provides a general assessment of soil characteristics across a sampled landscape, but lacks the ability to predict soil properties with depth. The utilization of mass-preserving spline functions enable the extrapolation of soil properties with depth, extending predictive functions to three-dimensions (3D). The present study was completed in the Marshall Gulch (MG) catchment, located in the Santa Catalina Mountains, 30 km northwest of Tucson, Arizona, as part of the Santa Catalina-Jemez Mountains Critical Zone Observatory. Twenty-four soil pits were excavated and described following standard procedures. Mass-preserving splines were used to extrapolate mass carbon (kg C m-2); percent clay, silt, and sand (%); sodium mass flux (kg Na m-2); and pH for 24 sampled soil pits in 1-cm depth increments. Saturated volumetric water content (θs) and volumetric water content at 10 kPa (θ10) were predicted using ROSETTA and established empirical relationships. The described profiles were all sampled to differing depths; to compensate for the unevenness of the profile descriptions, the soil depths were standardized from 0.0 to 1.0 and then split into five equal standard depth sections. A logit-transformation was used to normalize the target variables. Step-wise regressions were calculated using available environmental covariates to predict the properties of each variable across the catchment in each depth section, and interpolated model residuals added back to the predicted layers to generate the final soil maps. Logit-transformed R2 for the predictive functions varied widely, ranging from 0.20 to 0.79, with logit-transformed RMSE ranging from 0.15 to 2.77. The MG catchment was further classified into clusters with similar properties based on the environmental covariates, and representative depth functions for each target variable in each cluster calculated. Mass-preserving splines combined with stepwise regressions are an effective tool for predicting soil physical, chemical, and hydrological properties with depth, enhancing our understanding of the critical zone.