Western Fresno Soil Hierarchy: partial view of the hierarchy within the US Soil Taxonomic system
Field and lab characterization of soil profile data result in the accumulation of a massive, multivariate and three-dimensional data set. Classification is one approach to making sense of a large collection of this type of data. US Soil Taxonomy is the primary soil classification system used in the U.S.A and many other countries. This system is hierarchical in nature, and makes use on the presence or absence of diagnostic soil features. A comprehensive discussion of Soil Taxonomy is beyond the scope of this post. A detailed review of Soil Taxonomy can be found in Buol, S. W.; Graham, R. C.; McDaniel, P. A. & Southard, R. J. Soil Genesis and Classification Iowa State Press, 2003.