General Soil Map of the United States

The U.S. General Soil Map consists of general soil association units. It was developed by the National Cooperative Soil Survey and supersedes the State Soil Geographic (STATSGO) dataset published in 1994. It consists of a broad-based inventory of soils and non-soil areas that occur in a repeatable pattern on the landscape and that can be cartographically shown at the scale mapped.  The dataset was created by generalizing more detailed soil survey maps. Where more detailed soil survey maps were not available, data on geology, topography, vegetation, and climate were assembled, together with Land Remote Sensing Satellite (LANDSAT) images. Soils of like areas were studied, and the probable classification and extent of the soils were determined.

The Google Earth version of this Soil Map provides the locations and names of the soils.  Unfortunately, there does not seem to be an easy way to extract detailed soil characteristics for each soil type from the database created by NRCS.  If you need the characteristics of the soil, you can search for the name of the soil at this website.  If anyone knows of a better way to search for the soil characteristics, post a comment.

This is a very large dataset.  The polygon data is several 100 megabytes.  To get Google Earth to display the polygons on a national level, they have been split up into 1×1 degree tiles.  There is also an Overview map.  Simply zoom in and as you get close enough to the ground, the Overview map will automatically turn off and the detailed polygons will automatically turn on.  Click on a polygon to see the name of the soil.

US Soils

US Soils

Download With Google Earth


Google Earth Library

Natural Resources Conservation Service


11 comments to General Soil Map of the United States

  • Ann

    This is an absolutely amazing resource. People can really see what kind of soil they’ve got to work with. Thanks for posting this. Plant and Garden Information

  • JC

    Wow this is great!!

  • David Hoover


    Great display of NRCS soils data at this scale. I noticed that our agency has been given credit for the base data but since I always like to know our user base, can you tell me who assembled and posted this data? I’d like to get in touch and discuss methods.

    Thanks in advance and keep using soils data!


    David Hoover
    National Leader for Soil Business Systems
    USDA-NRCS National Soil Survey Center
    Federal Building, Room 152, Mail Stop 32
    100 Centennial Mall North
    Lincoln, Nebraska 68508-3866

  • Some great data here on soil. You can see how the constituents of the topsoil change from area to area.Brilliant

  • Nice work. Here is a related Google Earth application that displays SSURGO (detailed soil survey) data, along with graphical descriptions of soil profile information.


  • Jared

    Having trouble with the functionality of this feature. It worked perfectly the first time I opened it, but now will not allow me to click on the layer and display the soil data. The image with soil boundaries still appears, but it doesn’t seem to be linking to the metadata. Any thoughts? Thanks.

  • The beauty of thechnology. Superb demonstration of how technology can help us understand more about the soil we have to work with.

  • John

    Are the colors completely arbitrary? They aren’t useful to me without a key, and if the colors are completely arbitrary it’s very difficult to visually determine trends across the country. I’d like to be able to look at an area and say, “aha, this is soil type x, and it correlates roughly with these geographic features.”

    This could really use a key/legend for the meaning of the colors. It’s not very useful without it.

  • Gary

    You can get county datasets for entire US from USDA GeoSpatial Gateway or SoilDataMart. All soils products are from NRCS. Once on SoilDataMart you can get soils reports for a wide variety of soil characteristics. This is all free to the public and thanks to USDA for making these reources available.

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