Digital mapping of buried soil horizons using 2D and pseudo-3D geoelectrical measurements in a ground moraine landscape

Ilona van der Kroef, Sylvia Koszinski*, Michael Grinat, Marijn van der Meij, Wilfried Hierold, Wolfgang Südekum, Michael Sommer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


The identification of buried soil horizons in agricultural landscapes helps to quantify sediment budgets and erosion-related carbon dynamics. High-resolution mapping of buried horizons using conventional soil surveys is destructive and time consuming. Geoelectrical sensors can offer a fast and non-destructive alternative for determining horizon positions and properties. In this paper, we compare the suitability of several geoelectrical methods for measuring the depth to buried horizons (Apb, Ahb and Hab) in the hummocky ground moraine landscape of northeastern Germany. Soil profile descriptions were developed for 269 locations within a 6-ha experimental field “CarboZALF-D”. A stepwise linear discriminant analysis (LDA) estimated the lateral position of the buried horizons using electromagnetic induction data and terrain attributes. To predict the depth of a buried horizon, multiple linear regression (MLR) was used for both a 120-m transect and a 0.2-ha pseudo-three-dimensional (3D) area. At these scales, apparent electrical conductivity (ECa), electrical resistivity (ER) and terrain attributes were used as independent variables. The LDA accurately predicted Apb- and Ahb-horizons (a correct classification of 93%). The LDA of the Hab-horizon had a misclassification of 24%, which was probably related to the smaller test set and the higher depth of this horizon. The MLR predicted the depth of the Apb-, Ahb- and Hab-horizons with relative root mean square errors (RMSEs) of 7, 3 and 13%, respectively, in the pseudo-3D area. MLR had a lower accuracy for the 2D transect compared to the pseudo-3D area. Overall, the use of LDA and MLR has been an efficient methodological approach for predicting buried horizon positions. Highlights: The suitability of geoelectrical measurements for digital modelling of diagnostic buried soil horizons was determined. LDA and MLR were used to detect multiple horizons with geoelectrical devices and terrain attributes. Geoelectrical variables were significant predictors of the position of the target soil horizons. The use of these tested digital technologies gives an opportunity to develop high-resolution soil mapping procedures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10-26
JournalEuropean Journal of Soil Science
Issue number1
Early online date17 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020


  • colluvium depth modelling
  • electrical conductivity
  • electrical resistivity tomography
  • electromagnetic induction
  • EM38DD
  • linear discriminant analysis
  • linear regression
  • moraine soil landscape


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