In 2007, the U.S. Geological Survey initiated a low-density (1 site per 1,600 square kilometers, 4,857 sites) geochemical and mineralogical survey of soils of the conterminous United States as part of the North American Soil Geochemical Landscapes Project. Sampling and analytical protocols were developed at a workshop in 2003, and pilot studies were conducted from 2004 to 2007 to test and refine these recommended protocols. The final sampling protocol for the national-scale survey included, at each site, a sample from a depth of 0 to 5 centimeters, a composite of the soil A horizon, and a deeper sample from the soil C horizon or, if the top of the C horizon was at a depth greater than 1 meter, from a depth of approximately 80–100 centimeters. The <2-millimeter fraction of each sample was analyzed for a suite of 45 major and trace elements by methods that yield the total or near-total elemental content. The major mineralogical components in the samples from the soil A and C horizons were determined by a quantitative X-ray diffraction method using Rietveld refinement. Sampling in the conterminous United States was completed in 2010, with chemical and mineralogical analyses completed in May 2013. The resulting dataset provides an estimate of the abundance and spatial distribution of chemical elements and minerals in soils of the conterminous United States and represents a baseline for soil geochemistry and mineralogy against which future changes may be recognized and quantified. This report (1) describes the sampling, sample preparation, and analytical methods used; (2) gives details of the quality control protocols used to monitor the quality of chemical and mineralogical analyses over approximately six years; and (3) makes available the soil geochemical and mineralogical data in downloadable tables.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Geochemical and mineralogical data for soils of the conterminous United States
U.S. Geological Survey
Central Mineral and Environmental Resources Science Center