Articles | Volume 17, issue 4
Research article
02 Apr 2013
Research article |  | 02 Apr 2013

Assessment of shallow subsurface characterisation with non-invasive geophysical methods at the intermediate hill-slope scale

S. Popp, D. Altdorff, and P. Dietrich

Abstract. Hill-slopes of several hectares in size represent a difficult scale for subsurface characterisation, as these landscape units are well beyond the scope of traditional point-scale techniques. By means of electromagnetic induction (EMI) and gamma-ray spectroscopy, spatially distributed soil proxy data were collected from a heterogeneous hill-slope site. Results of EMI mapping using the EM38DD showed that soil electrical conductivity (ECa) is highly variable at both temporal and spatial scales. Calibration of the integral ECa signal to a specific target like soil moisture is hampered by the ambiguous response of EMI to the clay-rich hill-slope underground. Gamma-ray results were obtained during a single survey, along with EMI measurements and selected soil sampling. In contrast to ECa, a noticeable correlation between Total Count and K emission data and soil-water content seemed to be present. Relevant proxy variables from both methods were used for k means clustering in order to distinguish between hill-slope areas with different soil conditions. As a result, we obtained a suitable partition of hill-slope that was comparable with a previously obtained zonation model based on ecological factors.