A catena is the sequence of soils from hilltop to valley floor. The soil down a hill slope is rarely uniform. Soil eroded from the top of the slope tends to accumulate near the bottom. Runoff water tends to infiltrate more in the flatter areas at the foot of the slope, and encourage more plant growth there than on the steep part of the slope. Consequently, the factors forming the soil will differ from top to bottom, and different soils will develop.
This soil pattern is on a beech-forested slope in the Waimakariri valley on the eastern side of the Southern Alps.
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Source: Les Molloy, Soils in the New Zealand landscape: the living mantle. Lincoln: New Zealand Society of Soil Science, 1998, p. 146
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