Using soil surveys to map Quaternary parent materials and landforms

Miller, B.A., C.L. Burras, and W.G. Crumpton. 2008. Using soil surveys to map Quaternary parent materials and landforms across the Des Moines Lobe of Iowa and Minnesota. Soil Survey Horizons 49(4):91-95.


The integration of soil survey maps with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) allows for an almost infinite level of collaboration across disciplines that use information related to soil databases. The ability to link databases with geospatial delineations and to store unique information for individual delineations creates the opportunity for this information to serve many other areas of study. This study created a Quaternary geologic map by categorizing soil descriptions into a geologic context and joining the attributes with the Soil Survey Geographic (SSURGO) database in ArcGIS®. The resulting map communicates many of the spatial intricacies of the Des Moines Lobe landform with 15 map units based on geologic units. The display of these map units shows detailed features of ground moraine, stagnation moraine, glacial lakes, outwash, and loess deposits. Qualitative visual assessment shows that our Quaternary geologic map has generally good agreement with existing Quaternary geologic maps while including finer detailed information and user controllable scale.  Based upon these results, we envision widespread use of this method.

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