Interrill soil erosion processes and their interaction on low slopes
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Soil erosion by water is mostly the result of rainfall-driven and runoff-driven processes taking place simultaneously during a storm event. However, the effect of interaction between these two erosion processes has received limited attention. Most laboratory experiments indicate that the rate of erosion in a rain-impacted flow is greater than for un-impacted flows of similar depth and velocity, however negative interaction between the two processes has also been reported. There is no provision for any such interaction in any of the current erosion models. This paper reports on the results of a number of exact experiments on three soil types carried out in the flume of Griffith University's large Rainfall simulator to study interaction between rain and runoff processes. The results show that interaction is generally positive under approximately steady state condition and there is very limited sign of negative interaction reported by others. Results provide strong evidence that raindrops continuously peel fine sediment from larger stable aggregates. This mechanism could be the reason for positive interaction during simultaneous rainfall and flow driven erosion in well aggregated soils as a result of increased fine particles in the eroded sediment. Strong positive interaction between rain and runoff erosion also occurs for medium to large aggregates. This strongly suggests that mechanisms which are not well understood are operational. It is quite possible that particle movement can be stimulated by rolling or creeping in a size-selective manner. Indeed, such additional mechanisms may well be largely responsible for the positive interaction observed between rain and surface flow.
Earth Surface Processes and Landforms
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