I’ve known about the USGS’ SSURGO database for awhile. Back when I was practicing as a civil engineer, we mostly used it to define drainage groups of soil. I did a few land development suitability analyses for some conceptual projects with it too, but nothing too intense. For my current project, I needed to use it to define the subsurface conditions of an urban hydrological model. Here I present how to extract more detailed information from the SSURGO database.
I recently read an article that posed an interesting question: does the wealth of data that we are now able to collect about every aspect of life make the development of explanatory models and theories moot? All theories and models are reductionist representations of complex real life that are meant to help us understand how things work. But, says the author of this article, in the age of the Petabyte, explanations of why we do the things we do are becoming less important. More important are the development of tools and methodologies that extract the patterns, show the statistical correlations, and find the relationships between all the data that we are collecting.