Evaluating methods to create a base map for a subaqueous soil inventory

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Topographic maps are often used as base maps for soil survey investigations and inventories. On these maps landscape units, based on slope, land-surface shape, and landscape/landform associations can be easily visualized and delineated. These landscape units provide the first approximation of the distribution of soils across an area. In the submerged environment, observing landscape units in water that are greater than a meter is nearly impossible, so reliable topographic maps of the submerged topography are necessary for conducting subaqueous soil surveys. In this study, bathymetric data collected by NOAA using acoustic soundings were compared with direct measurement of the submerged topography of a coastal lagoon in Rhode Island in order to evaluate the usefulness of the NOAA data for creating a topographic base map for a subaqueous soil inventory. Direct measurements were made using traditional surveying equipment and innovative methods. Although the data were 40 years old, the topographic map (1:10,000) created from the NOAA data resembled closely the contour map created from the more recent survey data. These results strongly suggest that subaqueous landscape units in coastal lagoons may be stable for a relatively long period of time. Our study suggests that available NOAA bathymetric data, augmented with elevation data collected with traditional and innovative methods, may be a useful approach to create a base map for subaqueous soil inventories.

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Soil Science