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Soil Science Society of America Journal Abstract - PEDOLOGY

Digitally Mapping Gypsic and Natric Soil Areas Using Landsat ETM Data


This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 71 No. 1, p. 245-252
    Received: Feb 3, 2006

    * Corresponding author(s): janis.boettinger@usu.edu
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  1. S. J. Nield,
  2. J. L. Boettinger * and
  3. R. D. Ramsey
  1. U SDA-NRCS, Federal Bldg., P.O. Box 33124, 100 East B St., 3rd Floor, Casper, WY 82602-5011
    D ep. of Plants, Soils, and Biometeorology, Utah State Univ., 4820 Old Main Hill, Logan, UT 84322-4820
    D ep. of Wildland Resources, Utah State Univ., 5230 Old Main Hill, Logan, UT 84322-5230


Mapping salt-affected soils in remote rangelands is challenging. We used Landsat 7 ETM data to facilitate digital mapping of gypsic and natric soil areas in the upper Colorado River drainage. Optimum index factor band combinations were used to explore the scene. Normalized difference ratio models and threshold values were developed by comparing spectral signatures with gypsic and natric soil areas verified in the field. Gypsic soil areas were mapped using the normalized difference ratio of Bands 5 and 7 with a threshold >0.11, probably related to the spectral reflectance of gypsum within a few centimeters of the surface. All sites predicted to be gypsic soil areas were determined to be gypsic by field assessment, and 87% of the field-observed gypsic soil areas were correctly predicted. Natric soil areas were mapped using the normalized difference ratio of Bands 5 and 4 with a threshold >0.19, possibly related to the co-occurrence of Fe-bearing minerals with natric soil areas. Most of the sites predicted to be natric were determined in the field to be natric (82%), but only half of the field-observed natric areas were correctly predicted, indicating that natric soils are harder to detect spectrally than gypsic soils. While the gypsic model may be transferred to other areas, particularly in the arid Colorado Plateau, transfer of natric models would be difficult. Normalized difference ratio models can be developed for other digital soil mapping areas where land surface features produce differences in Landsat spectral band reflectances.

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