Skip to main content
ARS Home » Southeast Area » Oxford, Mississippi » National Sedimentation Laboratory » Watershed Physical Processes Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #338188

Title: Disaggregating soil erosion processes within an evolving experimental landscape

item MOMM, HENRIQUE - Middle Tennessee State University
item Wells, Robert - Rob
item BENNETT, SEAN - State University Of New York (SUNY)

Submitted to: Earth Surface Processes and Landforms
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/4/2017
Publication Date: 10/2/2017
Publication URL:
Citation: Momm, H.G., Wells, R.R., Bennett, S.J. 2017. Disaggregating soil erosion processes within an evolving experimental landscape. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms. 43(2):543-552. doi: 10.1002/esp.4268.

Interpretive Summary: Close-range photogrammetry was used to discriminate soil erosion processes (raindrop splash, sheet erosion, rill erosion, gully erosion). Disaggregating the soil erosion processes facilitated identifying and mapping each specific regime in space and time. As the landscape evolved, the erosion regimes varied in coverage area and relative contribution to total measured sediment load at the outlet, and these regimes conformed to expected trajectory of landscape evolution. Results show that the contribution of total soil loss from each regime could be determined in space and time, and that the rill and sheetflow regimes contributed the most sediment to the total load exiting the flume. Morphologic determination of soil erosion and landscape degradation using high-resolution remote sensing technology appears to be an effective assessment tool available for directly assessing soil erosion.

Technical Abstract: Soil-mantled landscapes subjected to rainfall, runoff events, and downstream base level adjustments will erode and evolve in time and space. Yet the precise mechanisms for soil erosion also will vary, and such variations may not be adequately captured by soil erosion prediction technology. This study sought to monitor erosion processes within an experimental landscape filled with packed homogenous soil and exogenically forced by rainfall and base level adjustments, and to define the temporal and spatial variation in the style and magnitude of these processes. Close-range photogrammetry and terrain analysis were employed as the primary methods to discriminate these erosion regimes. Results show that (1) four distinct erosion regimes can be identified (raindrop, sheeflow, rill, and gully), and these regimes conformed to an expected trajectory of landscape evolution, (2) as the landscape evolved, these erosion regimes varied in areal coverage and in relative contribution to total sediment efflux measured at the outlet of the catchment, and (3) the sheetflow and rill erosion regimes dominated the contributions to total soil loss. Disaggregating the soil erosion processes greatly facilitated identifying and mapping each specific erosion regime in time and space. Such information has important implications for improving soil erosion prediction technology, for assessing landscape degradation by soil erosion and mapping vulnerable regions, and for mitigating soil losses and managing soil resources.