Advertisement

Surveys in Geophysics

, Volume 39, Issue 4, pp 715–727 | Cite as

Loess Thickness Variations Across the Loess Plateau of China

  • Yuanjun Zhu
  • Xiaoxu Jia
  • Mingan Shao
Article

Abstract

The soil thickness is very important for investigating and modeling soil-water processes, especially on the Loess Plateau of China with its deep loess deposit and limited water resources. A digital elevation map (DEM) of the Loess Plateau and neighborhood analysis in ArcGIS software were used to generate a map of loess thickness, which was then validated by 162 observations across the plateau. The generated loess thickness map has a high resolution of 100 m × 100 m. The map indicates that loess is thick in the central part of the plateau and becomes gradually shallower in the southeast and northwest directions. The areas near mountains and river basins have the shallowest loess deposit. The mean loess thickness is the deepest in the zones with 400–600-mm precipitation and decreases gradually as precipitation varies beyond this range. Our validation indicates that the map just slightly overestimates loess thickness and is reliable. The loess thickness is mostly between 0 and 350 m in the Loess Plateau region. The calculated mean loess thickness is 105.7 m, with the calibrated value being 92.2 m over the plateau exclusive of the mountain areas. Our findings provide very basic data of loess thickness and demonstrate great progress in mapping the loess thickness distribution for the plateau, which are valuable for a better study of soil-water processes and for more accurate estimations of soil water, carbon, and solute reservoirs in the Loess Plateau of China.

Keywords

Soil thickness Loess Digital elevation map (DEM) Neighborhood analysis The Loess Plateau 

Notes

Acknowledgements

This work was financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41571130081 and 41530854), the Key Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (KFZD-SW-306), the National Key Research and Development Program of China (2016YFC0501706-03), and the Youth Innovation Research Team Project (LENOM2016Q0001). We thank the Editor in Chief and the reviewers for their assistance which has improved this paper.

References

  1. Catani F, Segoni S, Falorni G (2010) An empirical geomorphology-based approach to the spatial prediction of soil thickness at catchment scale. Water Resour Res 46(5):W05508.  https://doi.org/10.1029/2008WR007450 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ding ZL, Yang SL, Sun JM, Liu TS (1999) Re-organization of atmospheric circulation at about 2.6 Ma over northern China. Quat Sci 3:277–281Google Scholar
  3. Ding ZL, Derbyshire E, Yang SL, Yu ZW, Xiong SF, Liu TS (2002) Stacked 2.6-Ma grain size record from the Chinese loess based on five sections and correlation with the deep-sea δ18O record. Paleoceanography 17(3):1–14.  https://doi.org/10.1029/2001PA000725 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Fei XL, Jing LY, Sun DY (2011) Soil infiltration rate and soil moisture content under different land uses of Loess Plateau. Bull Soil Water Conserv 31(6):5–10.  https://doi.org/10.13961/j.cnki.stbctb.2011.06.024 Google Scholar
  5. Feng XM, Fu BJ, Piao SL, Wang S, Ciais P, Zeng ZZ, Lü YH, Zeng Y, Li Y, Jiang XH, Wu BF (2016) Revegetation in China’s Loess Plateau is approaching sustainable water resources limits. Nat Clim Change 6(11):1019–1022.  https://doi.org/10.1038/nclimate3092 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Follain S, Minasny B, McBratney AB, Walter C (2006) Simulation of soil thickness evolution in a complex agricultural landscape at fine spatial and temporal scales. Geoderma 133(1–2):71–86.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.geoderma.2006.03.038 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Fu BJ, Wang S, Liu Y, Liu JB, Liang W, Miao CY (2017) Hydrogeomorphic ecosystem responses to natural and anthropogenic changes in the Loess Plateau of China. Annu Rev Earth Planet Sci 45:223–243.  https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-earth-063016-020552 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Gan ZM (1982) Understanding soil erosion and control in the Loess Plateau from the development of loess geomorphology. Bull Soil Water Conserv 1(6):6–10.  https://doi.org/10.13961/ji.cnki.stbctb.1982.01.002 Google Scholar
  9. Ho JY, Lee KT, Chang TC, Wang ZY, Liao YH (2012) Influences of spatial distribution of soil thickness on shallow landslide prediction. Eng Geol 124:38–46.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.enggeo.2011.09.013 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Jing K, Chen YZ (1983) Preliminary study of the erosion environment and rates on the Loess Plateau. Geog Res 2(2):1–11Google Scholar
  11. Liang WY (1946) Problem on loess thickness. Geol Rev z2:283–289 (in Chinese) Google Scholar
  12. Liu TS (1985) Loess and the environment. Science Press, BeijingGoogle Scholar
  13. Liu ZP, Shao MA, Wang YQ (2011) Effect of environmental factors on regional soil organic carbon stocks across the Loess Plateau region, China. Agr Ecosyst Environ 142(3–4):184–194.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agee.2011.05.002 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Moore ID, Gessler PE, Nielsen GA, Peterson GA (1992) Soil attribute prediction using terrain analysis. Soil Sci Soc Am J 57(2):443–452.  https://doi.org/10.2136/sssaj1993.03615995005700020026x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Pécsi M (1990) Loess is not just the accumulation of dust. Qaut Int 7(8):1–21Google Scholar
  16. Pelletier JD, Rasmussen C (2009) Geomorphically based predictive mapping of soil thickness in upland watersheds. Water Resour Res 45(9):W09417.  https://doi.org/10.1029/2008WR007319 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Power FJ, Sandoval FM, Ries RE, Merrill SD (1980) Effects of topsoil and subsoil thickness on soil water content and crop production on a disturbed soil. Soil Sci Soc Am J 45(1):124–129.  https://doi.org/10.2136/sssaj1981.03615995004500010027x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Richthofen F (1877) Ferdinand von Richthofen’s tagebucher aus China. Verlag von Dietrich Reimer, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  19. Segoni S, Rossi G, Catani F (2012) Improving basin scale shallow landslide modelling using reliable soil thickness maps. Nat Hazards 61(1):85–101.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11069-011-9770-3 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. van Wesemael B, Mulligan M, Poesen J (2000) Spatial patterns of soil water balance on intensively cultivated hillslopes in a semi-arid environment: the impact of rock fragments and soil thickness. Hydrol Process 14(10):1811–1828. https://doi.org/10.1002/1099-1085(200007)14:10<1811::AID-HYP65>3.0.CO;2-D CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Wang TM, Wu JG, Kou XJ, Ge JP (2010) Ecologically asynchronous agricultural practice erodes sustainability of the Loess Plateau of China. Ecol Appl 20:1126–1135.  https://doi.org/10.1890/09-0229.1 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Wang YQ, Shao MA, Liu ZP, Horton R (2013) Regional-scale variation and distribution patterns of soil saturated hydraulic conductivities in surface and subsurface layers in the loessial soils of China. J Hydrol 487:13–23.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhydrol.2013.02.006 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Wang YQ, Hu W, Zhu YJ, Shao MA, Xiao S, Zhang CC (2015) Vertical distribution and temporal stability of soil water in 21-m profiles under different land uses on the loess plateau in China. J Hydrol 527:543–554.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhydrol.2015.05.010 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Xiong LY, Tang GA, Li Y, Yuan BY, Lu ZC (2014) Modeling the evolution of loess-covered landforms in the Loess Plateau of China using a DEM of underground bedrock surface. Geomorphology 209(15):18–26.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.geomorph.2013.12.009 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Xu QX, Zhao JB, Qi XL (2000) Primary probing into the relationship of loess porosity and its granularity. J X’an Eng Univ 22(1):67–70Google Scholar
  26. Zhang TZ (1993) Transaction of the investigations on comprehensive regulation and development in the Loess Plateau region. Science and Technology Press of Chinese Academy of Sciences, BeijingGoogle Scholar
  27. Zhang XB, An ZS (1994) Relationship between forest and loess thicknesses in the Loess Plateau region. Bull Soil Water Conserv 14(6):1–4.  https://doi.org/10.13961/ji.cnki.stbctb.1994.06.001 Google Scholar
  28. Zhang LP, Ma ZZ (1998) The research on the relationship between gully density and cutting depth in different drainage landform evolution periods. Geog Res 17(3):273–278Google Scholar
  29. Zhang ZQ, Evaristo J, Li Z, Si BC, Mcdonnell JJ (2017) Tritium analysis shows apple trees may be transpiring water several decades old. Hydrol Process 31(5):1196–1201.  https://doi.org/10.1002/hyp.11108 CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Soil Erosion and Dryland Farming on the Loess PlateauNorthwest A&F UniversityYanglingChina
  2. 2.Institute of Soil and Water ConservationChinese Academy of Sciences and Ministry of Water ResourcesYanglingChina
  3. 3.Key Laboratory of Ecosystem Network Observation and Modeling, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources ResearchChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  4. 4.College of Resources and EnvironmentUniversity of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

Personalised recommendations