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Soil interpretations are predictions of soil behavior under specified conditions (Kel-logg, 1961) and are necessary in order to make soil surveys useful to people (Mausbachet al., 1993). However, soil survey interpretations are uncertain for several reasons,including use and season-dependent soil properties (Hole and Campbell, 1985; Gross-man and Pringle, 1987). Criteria chosen to define interpretations are based on impliedsoil properties and qualities that have varying degrees of accuracy. Within a landscape,soils form a continuum that often may not be easily distinguished by field techniques, orit may not be feasible to separate these soils at the scale of the survey. Also, within amap unit, different soils (components) may be found. In addition, between delineationsof the same map unit within a survey, the soil composition varies, and there are rangeswithin map unit components. Varying amounts of data within and between survey areasare needed to make interpretative decisions. Finally, information used to make soilsurvey interpretations is usually collected by a number of soil scientists and others thatmay have varying degrees of experience and competence (Mays, 1996).Soil survey information has been widely used in identifying appropriate sites forseptic tank filter fields. In some rural areas where such information is not used, septictank filter fields fail. Failures are expensive to fix (costing an estimated $10,000) andmay lead to soil and ground-water pollution. Wells may be contaminated, and somepeople would 'drink their own sewage' (Sanchez, 1993).By providing risk-based information to users, management decisions can be madebased on associated cost needed to reduce the risk to an acceptable level. Suchinformation allows the decision making to rest primarily with the user and to be basedon the risk the user is willing to assume along with the associated cost for risk reduction.The primary role of the soil scientist is to provide the necessary information on theinherent risk of the alternatives so that the users can make an informed decision.Risk analysis in engineering in general includes the following elements: (1) load orexposure, (2) capacity or threshold, (3) the failure event when load is larger thancapacity, and (4) the consequence of failure. Often, the first three elements are used todefine risk (Duckstein and Plate, 1987). This so-called engineering risk analysis of soilinterpretation is included in Bogardi et al. (1996). In the risk analysis presented in thispaper, all four elements are considered, that is, the various consequences of a possiblefailure are also considered.
2. Elements of risk analysis
(!) In environmental problems, such as soil interpretation, the exposure a can beestimated with some level of certainty. If a certain rating is characterized by a number ofestimated or actual soil properties i, the set of these properties represents the exposure.The uncertainty can be encoded by probabilistic methods. However, in the case of soilinterpretations, rarely are enough data available to describe exposure uncertainty bystatistical methods. Consequently, fuzzy logic is used to represent uncertainty in theexposure. Recent papers have described the principles and application of fuzzy logic insoil science (Chang and Burrough, 1987; De Gruijter and McBratney, 1988; Burrough,1989; Burrough et al., 1992; McBratney and De Gruijter, 1992; Bogardi et al., 1995;