Dust emissions from undisturbed and disturbed, crusted playa surfaces: cattle trampling effects
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Dry playa lake beds can be significant sources of fine dustemission. This study used a portable field wind tunnel to quantify the PM10emissions from a bare, fine-textured playa surface located in the far northern Chihuahua Desert. The natural, undisturbed crust and its subjection to two levels of animal disturbance (one and ten cow passes) were tested. The wind tunnel generated dustemissions under controlled conditions for firstly an initial blow-off of the surface, followed by two longer runs with sand added to the flow as an abrader material. Dust was measured using a GRIMM particle monitor. For the study playa, no significant differences in PM10 concentration and emission flux were found between the untrampled surface and following a single animal pass. This was the case for both the initial blow-offs and tests on plots under a steady abrader rate. Significantly higher dust loading was only associated with the effect of 10 animal passes. In the blow-offs, the higher PM10 yield after 10 passes reflected the greater availability of easily entrainable fine particles. Under abrasion, the effect of the heaviest trampling increased the emission flux by a third and abrasion efficiency by around 50% more than values on the untrampled surface. This enhanced abrasion efficiency persisted for a 30 min period under abrasion before the positive effect of the disturbance was no longer evident. The findings highlight the role of a threshold of disturbance that determines if supply-limited surfaces will exhibit enhanced wind erosion or not after undergoing perturbation.
Geology not elsewhere classified