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Open-File Report 2009-1038

Sample Collection of Ash and Burned Soils from the October 2007 Southern California Wildfires

By Todd M. Hoefen, Raymond F. Kokaly, Deborah A. Martin, Carlton Rochester, Geoffrey S. Plumlee, Greg Mendez, Eric G. Reichard, and Robert N. Fisher


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Between November 2 through 9, 2007 scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) collected samples of ash and burned soils from 28 sites in six areas burned as a result of the Southern California wildfires of October 2007, including the Harris, Witch, Santiago, Ammo, Canyon, and Grass Valley Fires. The primary goal of this sampling and analysis effort was to understand how differences in ash and burned soil composition relate to vegetation type, underlying bedrock geology, burn intensity, and residential versus wildland. Sampling sites were chosen with the input of local experts from the USGS Water Resources and Biological Resources Disciplines to help understand possible effects of the fires on water supplies, ecosystems, and endangered species. The sampling was also carried out in conjunction with detailed field analysis of the spectral reflectance characteristics of the ash, so that chemical and mineralogical characteristics of the field samples could be used to help interpret data collected as part of an airborne, hyperspectral remote-sensing survey of several of the burned areas in mid-late November, 2007.

This report presents an overview of the field sampling methodologies used to collect the samples, includes representative photos of the sites sampled, and summarizes important characteristics of each of the collection sites. In this report we use the term “ash” to refer collectively to white mineral ash, which results from full combustion of vegetation and black charred organic matter from partial combustion of vegetation or other materials. These materials were found to be intermingled as a deposited residue on the soil surface following the Southern California fires of 2007.

First posted February 25, 2009

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Suggested citation:

Hoefen, T.M., Kokaly, R.F., Martin, D.A., Rochester, C., Plumlee, G.S., Mendez, G., Reichard, E.G., and Fisher, R.N., 2009, Sample collection of ash and burned soils from the October 2007 southern California Wildfires: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2009–1038, 64 p.



Sampling Strategies

Collected Samples

References Cited

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