Paper published on mapping of hydropedologic spatial patterns

sssa-logoA paper from Cody Gillin’s master’s thesis was accepted last week.  The manuscript titled “Mapping of hydropedologic spatial patterns in a steep headwater catchment” will be published in a special issue on hydropedology in the Soil Science Society of America Journal.  This paper appears in the special issue with another paper on the same project, which was led by Rebecca Bourgault from the University of Vermont.

Gillin, C.P., Bailey, S.W., McGuire, K.J., Gannon, J.P. 2015. Mapping of hydropedologic spatial patterns in a steep headwater catchment, Soil Science Society of America Journal, doi: 10.2136/sssaj2014.05.0189.

Abstract: A hydropedologic approach can be used to describe soil units affected by distinct hydrologic regimes. We used field observations of soil morphology and geospatial information technology to map distribution of five hydropedologic soil units across a 42 ha forested headwater catchment. Soils were described and characterized at 172 locations within watershed 3, the hydrologic reference catchment for the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest, NH. Soil profiles were grouped by presence and thickness of genetic horizons. Topographic and bedrock metrics were used in a logistic regression model to estimate the probability of soil group occurrence. Each soil group occurred under specific settings that influence subsurface hydrologic conditions. The most important metrics for predicting soil groups were Euclidean distance from bedrock outcrop, topographic wetness index, bedrock-weighted upslope accumulated area, and topographic position index. Catchment scale maps of hydropedologic units highlight regions dominated by lateral eluviation or lateral illuviation, and show that only about half the catchment is dominated by podzolization processes occurring under vertical percolation at the pedon scale. A water table map shows the importance of near-stream zones, typically viewed as variable source areas, as well as more distal bedrock-controlled zones to runoff generation. Although the catchment is steep and underlain by soils developed in coarse-textured parent material, patterns of groundwater incursion into the solum indicate that well drained soils are restricted to deeper soils away from shallow bedrock and the intermittent stream network. Hydropedologic units can be a valuable tool for informing watershed management, soil carbon accounting, and understanding biogeochemical processes and runoff generation.


Dr. Kevin McGuire is an associate professor in the Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation and the associate director for the Virginia Water Resources Research Center in the College of Natural Resources and Environment at Virginia Tech.

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