ARCHIVED CONTENT: In December 2020, the CZO program was succeeded by the Critical Zone Collaborative Network (CZ Net) ×

How thick is the skin of the earth?

A soil mantled landscape in Reynolds Creek CZO

26 Aug 2018
News Source: Idaho State University

Image: A soil mantled landscape in Reynolds Creek CZO [Click image to enlarge]

A team of Idaho State University researchers working at the Reynolds Creek Critical Zone Observatory in partnership with the USDA Agricultural Research Service has discovered a simple method for predicting the spatial distribution of soil thickness across a landscape. 

Until now, it has been a large unknown because there were no good, inexpensive ways to estimate soil thickness accurately and economically across a landscape. Other methods are computationally intensive, analytically expensive, or literally backbreaking so that they are limited in scope. This method allows prediction of soil thickness anywhere with just LiDAR data – fine resolution topographic data – and as few as one soil pit.

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Predicting soil thickness on soil mantled hillslopes. Patton, N.P., Lohse, K.A., S.E. Godsey, Crosby, B.T., and Seyfried, M. (2018): Nature Communications 9: 3329

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