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Using the RUSLE to identify factors controlling erosion rates of mine soils

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Evans, K.G. and Loch, R.J. (1996) Using the RUSLE to identify factors controlling erosion rates of mine soils. Land Degradation and Development, 7 (3). pp. 267-277. ISSN 1099-145X

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Article Link: https://doi.org/10.1002/(SICI)1099-145X(199609)7:3...


Observable differences in particle size, smoothness and compaction between cap site (slope 2·8 per cent) and batter site (slope 20·7 per cent) surfaces on the waste rock dump at Ranger Uranium Mine were quantified in terms of revised universal soil loss equation (RUSLE) parameter values. Cap site surface material had a Km (erodibility corrected for sediment density) of 0·030 and batter site surface material had a Km of 0·0056. Using these Km values (derived from particle size distributions), slope length and steepness (LS) factors of 0·36 for the cap site and 3·66 for the batter site, and a cover (C) factor of 0·45 for the cap site and 0·16 for the batter site, the RUSLE predicts an erosion rate from the cap site that is 1·9 times greater than erosion from the much steeper batter site. The RUSLE indicates that the finer particle size and blocky soil structure of the cap site (D50 = 0·91 mm) compared with the looser granular structure of the batter site (D50 = 1·74 mm) strongly influence erosion. The predictions are similar to observed soil losses from erosion plots on these sites under rainfall simulation events, for which the measured erosion rate from the cap site was approximately twice that from the batter site. For the RUSLE to predict the observed erosion rates, the support practice (P) factor for the cap site would have to be approximately 30 per cent greater than the P factor for the batter site. The higher cap site P factor probably results from smoothing and compaction caused by vehicle movement across the surface. Compaction is considered to have greatly reduced infiltration capacity, thus increasing the erodibility of the cap site. Vehicles probably also crushed the surface material at the cap site, creating the observed finer particle size distribution and further increasing the erodibility. Compaction, through its effects on erodibility (Km) and surface roughness (P), is concluded to be the major cause of higher erosion from the cap site, even though the slope steepness is 10 times less. Parameterisation of the RUSLE quantifies the differences between sites and explains the unexpected erosion rates observed. The results highlight the need for careful management of rehabilitated sites to avoid increases in erosion which may arise from compaction by machinery.

Item Type:Article
Subjects:Science > Statistics > Mathematical statistics
Agriculture > Agriculture (General) > Soil conservation and protection
Live Archive:10 Apr 2024 03:21
Last Modified:10 Apr 2024 03:21

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