U.S. Geological Survey investigations of environmental controls on carbon cycling in soils and sediments of the Mississippi
River Basin (MRB), an area of 3.3 x 106 square kilometers
(km2), have produced an assessment tool for estimating the storage and inventory of soil organic carbon (SOC) by using soil-characterization data from Federal, State, academic, and literature sources. The methodology is based on the linkage
of site-specific SOC data (pedon data) to the soil-association
map units of the U.S. Department of Agriculture State Soil Geographic (STATSGO) and Soil Survey Geographic (SSURGO) digital soil databases in a geographic information
system. The collective pedon database assembled from individual sources presently contains 7,321 pedon records representing 2,581 soil series. SOC storage, in kilograms per square meter (kg/m2), is calculated for each pedon at standard
depth intervals from 0 to 10, 10 to 20, 20 to 50, and 50 to 100 centimeters. The site-specific storage estimates are then regionalized to produce national-scale (STATSGO) and county-scale (SSURGO) maps of SOC to a specified depth. Based on this methodology, the mean SOC storage for the top meter of mineral soil in the MRB is approximately 10 kg/m2, and the total inventory is approximately 32.3 Pg (1 petagram = 109 metric tons). This inventory is from 2.5 to 3 percent of the estimated global mineral SOC pool.