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Project status is complete. Please check the project list for currently active projects.

Overview

example soil map
Example of map from the interactive web site, showing Potassium Feldspar concentrations in A Horizon soils. View full size image.

Why are we doing this research?

The USGS Soil Geochemical Landscapes of the Conterminous United States Project (2011-2015) published national-scale geochemical and mineralogical data and maps for soils of the conterminous U.S., published in USGS Data Series 801 (Smith and others, 2014; Smith and others, 2013) and available as an interactive mapping web site. Users can view all the maps and download them in a variety of formats, including KML files that can be opened directly into Google Earth. However, interpretive products to explain the major geochemical and mineralogical patterns observed for each element and mineral have not been published.

What research is USGS going to do?

We will publish interpretive products based on the existing national-scale geochemical and mineralogical data and maps for soils of the conterminous U.S. In addition to these publications, we will add explanations of the major geochemical and mineralogical patterns observed for each element and mineral shown on this site.

These data and maps are a valuable tool in policy and decision-making. Possible interpretive products will show:

  • the national-scale distribution of each element and mineral;
  • the influence of glaciation on soil geochemistry and mineralogy of the upper Mid-West;
  • the influence of climate, parent material, and human activities (agriculture, industry, and vehicular emissions) on soil geochemistry and mineralogy.

In addition, the Mexican Geological Survey is nearing completion of chemical analysis on soil samples collected throughout Mexico. We hope to merge our data sets to produce geochemical maps of the two countries combined.

What are the potential impacts of this research?

There are a variety of stakeholders who provided positive comments when the soil geochemical and mineralogical data and maps were published. The additional interpretive publications and resulting enhanced interactive data and map portal will facilitate the stakeholders' ability to understand the abundance and spatial distribution of chemical elements and minerals in soils of the conterminous U.S.

References

Smith, D.B., Cannon, W.F., Woodruff, L.G., Solano, Federico, and Ellefsen, K.J., 2014, Geochemical and mineralogical maps for soils of the conterminous United States: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2014–1082, 386 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/ofr20141082.

Smith, D.B., Cannon, W.F., Woodruff, L.G., Solano, Federico, Kilburn, J.E., and Fey, D.L., 2013, Geochemical and mineralogical data for soils of the conterminous United States: U.S. Geological Survey Data Series 801, 19 p., https://pubs.usgs.gov/ds/801/.

Online GIS Interface for the Data

A-horizon soil sample.
Soil sample pit at site 29_1_A, South Dakota. Photograph by Laurel G. Woodruff, USGS.

Products

Journal Articles and Reports

de Caritat, P., Reimann, C., Smith, D.B., and Wang, X., 2017, Chemical elements in the environment: Multi-element geochemical datasets from continental to national scale surveys on four continents: Applied Geochemistry, In Press, Accepted Manuscript - available online 2 December 2017, doi:10.1016/j.apgeochem.2017.11.010.

Eckley, C.S., Tate, M.T., Lin, C.-J., Gustin, M., Dent, S., Eagles-Smith, C., Lutz, M.A., Wickland, K.P., Wang, B., Gray, J.E., Edwards, G.C., Krabbenhoft, D.P., Smith, D.B., 2016, Surface-air mercury fluxes across Western North America: A synthesis of spatial trends and controlling variables: Science of The Total Environment, 568, p. 651-665, doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.02.121.

Ellefsen, K.J., and Smith, D.B., 2016, Manual hierarchical clustering of regional geochemical data using a Bayesian finite mixture model: Applied Geochemistry, 75, p. 200-210, doi:10.1016/j.apgeochem.2016.05.016.

Ellefsen, K.J, and Smith, D.B., 2016, User's guide for GcClust—An R package for clustering of regional geochemical data: U.S. Geological Survey report Techniques and Methods 7–C13, 21 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/tm7c1.

Abstracts

Ellefsen, K.J., Woodruff, L.G., Smith, D.B., Cannon, W.F., and Solano, F., 2016, Clustering of Soil Geochemical and Mineralogical Data from the Conterminous United States Using a Bayesian Finite Mixture Model: Joint Statistical Meeting (JSM) 2016 Proceedings Book, July 30-August 4, 2016, Chicago, IL. View Ellefsen 2016 abstract.

Illinois soil sample collection site
Soil sample collection site 2472 near Rantoul, Illinois. Photograph by Laurel G. Woodruff, USGS.
New Jersey soil sample collection site
Soil sample collection site 8436, just south of Atlantic City, New Jersey. Photograph by Laurel G. Woodruff, USGS.

Partners

Servicio Geológico Mexicano (Mexican Geological Survey)

scientists at soil pit
Scientists from the Mexican Geological Survey (Servicio Geológico Mexicano), Geological Survey of Canada, and the USGS at a soil sample pit in Mexico. Photograph by Jean Weaver, USGS.

Project Contact

Laurel Woodruff
Phone: 763-783-3291
Email: woodruff@usgs.gov
Eastern Mineral and Environmental Resources Science Center

Mineral Resources Program Science Priority

The use of firm, trade, and brand names is for identification purposes only and does not constitute endorsement by the U.S. government.

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