Furze, S.; O’Sullivan, A.M.; Allard, S.; Pronk, T.; Curry, R.A. A High-Resolution, Random Forest Approach to Mapping Depth-to-Bedrock across Shallow Overburden and Post-Glacial Terrain. Remote Sens. 2021, 13, 4210. https://doi.org/10.3390/rs13214210

April 5, 2022


Regolith, or unconsolidated materials overlying bedrock, exists as an active zone for many geological, geomorphological, hydrological and ecological processes. This zone and its processes are foundational to wide-ranging human needs and activities such as water supply, mineral exploration, forest harvesting, agriculture, and engineered structures. Regolith thickness, or depth-tobedrock (DTB), is typically unavailable or restricted to finer scale assessments because of the technical and cost limitations of traditional drilling, seismic, and ground-penetrating radar surveys. The objective of this study was to derive a high-resolution (10 m2) DTB model for the province of New Brunswick, Canada as a case study. This was accomplished by developing a DTB database from publicly available soil profiles, boreholes, drill holes, well logs, and outcrop transects (n = 203,238). A Random Forest model was produced by modeling the relationships between DTB measurements in the database to gridded datasets derived from both a LiDAR-derived digital elevation model and photo-interpreted surficial geology delineations. In developing the Random Forest model, DTB measurements were split 70:30 for model development and validation, respectively. The DTB model produced an R2 = 92.8%, MAE = 0.18 m, and RMSE = 0.61 m for the training, and an R2 = 80.3%, MAE = 0.18 m, and RMSE = 0.66 m for the validation data. This model provides an unprecedented resolution of DTB variance at a landscape scale. Additionally, the presented framework provides a fundamental understanding of regolith thickness across a post-glacial terrain, with potential application at the global scale.

Keywords: bedrock; regolith; geomorphology; random forest; LiDAR; modeling; topography; covariates

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