Soil property patterns and topographic parameters associated with ephemeral gully erosion

Lentz, R.D.; Dowdy, R.H.; Rust, R.H.

Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 48(4): 354-361


ISSN/ISBN: 0022-4561
Accession: 002494857

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The pattern of ephemeral gully erosion and associated soil properties were investigated in three southeastern Minnesota (USA) sites during 1988 and 1989. The associations between topographic attributes and erosion characteristics of sample sites were also examined. No ephemeral erosion was measured after the investigation began in the drought year of 1988. In 1989 soil lost from ephemeral gullies ranged from 0.8 to 1.6 t/ha at the study sites, or one-tenth of that reported in the literature for similar watersheds. Pre-1988 data available at one site showed that soil removal was an order of magnitude greater during the wetter-than-normal 1986 season. A simple erosion model predicting topsoil removal and subsoil mixing in upper reaches and deposition in lower ephemeral gully reaches, does not accurately describe erosion processes in these landscapes. Impact of ephemeral erosion on soil properties in landscapes varied depending on relative rill and interrill contributions, proclivity for channel drifting, and occurrence of depositional sorting in channels. Topographically sensitive controls of ephemeral erosion, such as surface saturation and stream transport capacity, played different roles in channel formation at each site. Topographic indices most useful for predicting ephemeral erosion were planform curvature, profile curvaturexslope, Ln (unit area/slope), unit areaxslope, and planform curvaturexupstream contributing areaxslope.