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Home List of Titles A field investigation into the effects of progressive rainfall-induced soil seal and crust development on runoff and erosion rates: the impact of surface cover
Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1959.3/224861
- A field investigation into the effects of progressive rainfall-induced soil seal and crust development on runoff and erosion rates: the impact of surface cover
- Neave, Mel; Rayburg, Scott
- Surface crusts and seals can form from a variety of processes, both physical and biological, and have the potential to alter runoff and erosion, especially in regions with low vegetation covers. Despite the obvious links between seals and crusts these features have rarely been considered together. This study uses rainfall simulation experiments to investigate interrill soil crust and seal development in response to structural (or raindrop-impact-induced) and depositional (or runoff-induced) processes on a semiarid piedmont in southern New Mexico, USA, which has undergone substantive vegetation change (replacement of grasses by shrubs) over the last 100 years. The study design incorporates six double-paired runoff plots divided into four subplots, each of which was exposed to three rainfall simulation events. Crust development on these plots was assessed using penetration-resistance measurements while seal development was assessed using runoff coefficients. The penetration-resistance data indicate that subplots directly exposed to raindrop impacts (uncovered plots) have crusts that are ~40% stronger than those positioned beneath a mesh cover (covered plots) that intercepts the kinetic energy of the rainfall. The crusts exposed to raindrop-impacts increased in strength following each simulation, whereas the crusts on the covered surfaces reached a plateau after two events. Runoff data indicate that seal development does not directly mirror crust formation. Runoff coefficients increased after each rainfall simulation event but were not significantly different between the covered and uncovered plots. Rather, the presence of stone lags or litter on the soil surface influenced the relation between runoff and seal development. Sediment yields from uncovered surfaces exceeded those from covered surfaces, indicating that raindrop impacts contribute to the delivery of sediment into flows. The results of this study indicate that the loss of vegetation cover on the piedmont has increased the extent of surface crust and seal development but that those crusts may be playing an important role in mitigating erosion.
- Publication type
- Journal article
- Geomorphology, Vol. 87, no. 4 (Jul 2007), pp. 378-390
- Publication year
- FOR Code(s)
- 0403 Geology; 0406 Physical Geography and Environmental Geoscience
- Depositional crust; Erosion rate; Infiltration; New Mexico; North America; Piedmont; Rainfall simulation; Runoff; Semiarid; Structural crust; United States; Vegetation change
- Publisher URL
- Copyright © 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
- Peer reviewed