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Title: Soil–landscape relationships in the basalt-dominated highlands of Tigray, Ethiopia
Authors: Van de Wauw, J ×
Baert, G
Moeyersons, Jan
Nyssen, Jan
De Geyndt, K
Nurhussein, Taha
Amanuel, Zenebe
Poesen, Jean
Deckers, Jozef A. #
Issue Date: Sep-2008
Publisher: Elsevier
Series Title: Catena vol:75 issue:1 pages:117-127
Abstract: Though knowledge about the distribution and properties of soils is a key issue to support sustainable land
management, existing knowledge of the soils in Tigray (Northern Ethiopian Highlands) is limited to either
maps with a small scale or with a small scope. The goal of this study is to establish a model that explains the
spatial soil variability found in the May-Leiba catchment, and to open the scope for extrapolating this
information to the surrounding basalt-dominated uplands. A semi-detailed (scale: 1/40 000) soil survey was
conducted in the catchment. Profile pits were described and subjected to physico-chemical analysis, and
augerings were conducted. This information was combined with information from aerial photographs and
geological and geomorphologic observations. The main driving factors that define the variability in soil types
found were: 1) geology, through soil parent material and the occurrence of harder layers, often acting as
aquitards or aquicludes; 2) different types of mass movements that occupy large areas of the catchment; and
3) severe human-induced soil erosion and deposition. These factors lead to “red-black” Skeletic Cambisol–
Pellic Vertisol catenas on basalt and Calcaric Regosol–Colluvic Calcaric Cambisols–Calcaric Vertisol catenas on
limestone. The driving factors can be derived from aerial photographs. This creates the possibility to
extrapolate information and predict the soil distribution in nearby regions with a comparable geology. A
model was elaborated, which enables the user to predict soil types, using topography, geomorphology,
geology and soil colours, all of which can be derived from aerial photographs. This derived model was later
applied to other catchments and validated in the field.
ISSN: 0341-8162
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: IT
Appears in Collections:Division of Geography & Tourism
Division Soil and Water Management
× corresponding author
# (joint) last author

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