Soil properties and environmental tracers: A DEM based assessment in an Australian Mediterranean environment

G.R. Hancock, Daniel Murphy, Y. Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Terrain properties vary at the hillslope and catchment scale and play a significant role in the distribution of water and sediment. Of particular interest in recent years has been the role of hillslope and catchment properties in the spatial and temporal distribution of soil organic carbon (SOC) and the ability to predict SOC from DEM terrain analysis. SOC plays a significant role in soil health and productivity as well as providing a significant store of terrestrial carbon. This study examined SOC concentration along representative pasture transects in a catchment located in southern Western Australia with a Mediterranean climate. Results demonstrate that the majority of SOC (%) is located in the near-surface (300mm) and is concentrated in the top 0.2m. There was no relationship found between SOC (or microbial biomass) and topography or topographic derivatives such as wetness and terrain indices from DEMs. Significant relationships were however found between SOC and environmental tracers (137Cs and 210Pbex) down the soil profile. Weak, yet significant, relationships were found between SOC and the environmental tracers along the hillslope transects, suggesting that organic carbon moves along the same pathways as clay particles in soil. An erosion assessment using 137Cs and also a numerical soil erosion and landscape evolution model found low and comparable erosion rates at the site. The results demonstrate that SOC concentration is relatively uniform across the study site and that a transect scale assessment can provide a measure of hillslope and catchment scale SOC in this environment. © 2012.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-57
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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