Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Predictive soil property maps with prediction uncertainty at 30-meter resolution for the Colorado River Basin above Lake Mead

August 5, 2020

These data were compiled to demonstrate new predictive mapping approaches and provide comprehensive gridded 30 meter resolution soil property maps for the Colorado River Basin above Hoover Dam. Random forest models related environmental raster layers representing soil forming factors with field samples to render predictive maps that interpolate between sample locations. Maps represented soil pH, texture fractions (sand, silt clay, fine sand, very fine sand), rock, electrical conductivity (ec), gypsum, CaCO3, sodium adsorption ratio (sar), available water capacity (awc), bulk density (dbovendry), erodibility (kwfact), and organic matter (om) at 7 depths (0, 5, 15, 30, 60, 100, and 200 cm) as well as depth to restrictive layer (resdept) and surface rock size and cover. Accuracy and error estimated using a 10-fold cross validation indicated a range of model performances with coefficient of variation (R2) for models ranging from 0.20 to 0.76 with mean of 0.52 and a standard deviation of 0.12. Models of pH, om and ec had the best accuracy (R2 greater than 0.6). Most texture fractions, CaCO3, and SAR models had R2 values from 0.5-0.6. Models of kwfact, dbovendry, resdept, rock models, gypsum and awc had R2 values from 0.4-0.5 excepting near surface models which tended to perform better. Very fine sands and 200 cm estimates for other models generally performed poorly (R2 from 0.2-0.4), and sample size for the 200 cm models was too low for reliable model building. More than 90% of the soils data used was sampled since 2000, but some older samples are included. Uncertainty estimates were also developed by creating relative prediction intervals, which allow end users to evaluate uncertainty easily.