MINErosion 3: Using measurements on a tilting flume-rainfall simulator facility to predict erosion rates from post-mining landscapes in Central Queensland, Australia.
ABSTRACT: Open-cut coal mining in Queensland results in the formation of extensive saline overburden spoil-piles with steep slopes at the angle of repose (approximately 75% or 37o). These spoil-piles are generally found in multiple rows, several kilometers in length and heights of up to 50 or 60 m above the original landscape. They are highly dispersive and erodible. Legislation demands that these spoil piles be rehabilitated to minimize on-site and off-site discharges of sediment and salt into the surrounding environment. To achieve this, the steep slopes must be reduced, stabilized against erosion, covered with topsoil and re-vegetated. Key design criteria (slope gradient, slope length and vegetation cover) are required for the construction of post-mining landscapes that will result in acceptable erosion rates. A novel user-friendly hillslope computer model MINErosion 3.4 was developed that can accurately predict potential erosion rates from field scale hillslopes using parameters measured with a 3m laboratory tilting flume-rainfall simulator or using routinely measured soil physical and chemical properties. This model links MINErosion 2 with a novel consolidation and above ground vegetation cover factors, to the RUSLE and MUSLE equations to predict the mean annual and storm event erosion rates. The RUSLE-based prediction of the mean annual erosion rates allow minesites to derive the key design criteria of slope length, slope gradient and vegetation cover that would lead to acceptable erosion rates. The MUSLE-based prediction of storm event erosion rates will be useful as input into risk analysis of potential damage from erosion. MINErosion 3.4 was validated against erosion measured on 20 m field erosion plots established on post-mining landscapes at the Oakey Creek and Curragh coalmines, as well as on 120 and 70 m erosion plots on postmining landscapes at Kidston Gold Mine.
Project description:Water is one of the main agent of erosion in many environmental settings, but erosion rates derived from beryllium-10 (10Be) suggests that a relationship between precipitation and erosion rate is statistically non-significant on a global scale. This might be because of the strong influence of other variables on erosion rate. In this global 10Be compilation, we examine if mean annual precipitation has a statistically significant secondary control on erosion rate. Our secondary variable assessment suggests a significant secondary influence of precipitation on erosion rate. This is the first time that the influence of precipitation on 10Be-derived erosion rate is recognized on global scale. In fact, in areas where slope is <200m/km (~11°), precipitation influences erosion rate as much as mean basin slope, which has been recognized as the most important variable in previous 10Be compilations. In areas where elevation is <1000m and slope is <11°, the correlation between precipitation and erosion rate improves considerably. These results also suggest that erosion rate responds to change in mean annual precipitation nonlinearly and in three regimes: 1) it increases with an increase in precipitation until ~1000 mm/yr; 2) erosion rate stabilizes at ~1000 mm/yr and decreases slightly with increased precipitation until ~2200 mm/yr; and 3) it increases again with further increases in precipitation. This complex relationship between erosion rate and mean annual precipitation is best explained by the interrelationship between mean annual precipitation and vegetation. Increased vegetation, particularly the presence of trees, is widely recognized to lower erosion rate. Our results suggest that tree cover of 40% or more reduces erosion rate enough to outweigh the direct erosive effects of increased rainfall. Thus, precipitation emerges as a stronger secondary control on erosion rate in hyper-arid areas, as well as in hyper-wet areas. In contrast, the regime between ~1000 and ~2200 mm/yr is dominated by opposing relationships where higher rainfall acts to increase erosion rate, but more water also increases vegetation/tree cover, which slows erosion. These results suggest that when interpreting the sedimentological record, high sediment fluxes are expected to occur when forests transition to grasslands/savannahs; however, aridification of grasslands or savannahs into deserts will result in lower sediment fluxes. This study also implies that anthropogenic deforestation, particularly in regions with high rainfall, can greatly increase erosion.
Project description:Spoil tip production is one of the most extreme means of soil destruction, replacing the native soil with a coarse substrate. In this paper, we aim to determine the colonization of soil biota in new substrates, using collembola assemblages as an indicator. In Northern France, we sampled collembola communities in 11 coal mine spoil tips and their surroundings divided in four stages of vegetation development: bare soil, meadow, shrub and tree covers. We demonstrated that collembola assemblages of spoil tips were different from those observed in the surrounding native soil. Collembola communities on bare soil were characterized by pioneer (based on the Indval index) or exotic species (new in Northern France). However, homogenization occurred with development of vegetation cover. Indeed, our data showed no difference in springtail diversity between spoil tips and their corresponding environments regarding the tree vegetation cover. Using the Indval method, we defined pioneer, colonizing, opportunist or stenoecious species as a function of substrate affinities. Using the same method, we defined specialists, elective, preferring or indifferent species as a function of vegetation cover affinities, showing similarities with previously published surveys. Hence, our results were obtained by a focused analysis of species and their particularity. Finally, we discussed the interest in and the complementarity between the species analysis approach and the methodology dealing with functional traits and of its importance in the decision process of restoration and/or conservation of nature.
Project description:High levels of water-induced erosion in the transboundary Himalayan river basins are contributing to substantial changes in basin hydrology and inundation. Basin-wide information on erosion dynamics is needed for conservation planning, but field-based studies are limited. This study used remote sensing (RS) data and a geographic information system (GIS) to estimate the spatial distribution of soil erosion across the entire Koshi basin, to identify changes between 1990 and 2010, and to develop a conservation priority map. The revised universal soil loss equation (RUSLE) was used in an ArcGIS environment with rainfall erosivity, soil erodibility, slope length and steepness, cover-management, and support practice factors as primary parameters. The estimated annual erosion from the basin was around 40 million tonnes (40 million tonnes in 1990 and 42 million tonnes in 2010). The results were within the range of reported levels derived from isolated plot measurements and model estimates. Erosion risk was divided into eight classes from very low to extremely high and mapped to show the spatial pattern of soil erosion risk in the basin in 1990 and 2010. The erosion risk class remained unchanged between 1990 and 2010 in close to 87% of the study area, but increased over 9.0% of the area and decreased over 3.8%, indicating an overall worsening of the situation. Areas with a high and increasing risk of erosion were identified as priority areas for conservation. The study provides the first assessment of erosion dynamics at the basin level and provides a basis for identifying conservation priorities across the Koshi basin. The model has a good potential for application in similar river basins in the Himalayan region.
Project description:Long-term deposition of coal spoil piles may lead to serious pollution of soil and water resources in the dumping sites and surrounding areas. Karst aquifers are highly sensitive to environmental pollution. In this study, the occurrence and release/mobilization of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in coal waste and coal spoils fire gas mineral (CSFGM) were evaluated by field and indoor investigations at Yangquan city, one of the major coal mining districts in the karst areas of northern China. Field investigations showed that dumping of coal waste over decades has resulted in soil and water pollution via spontaneous combustion and leaching of coal spoil piles. Indoor analysis revealed that the 2-ring and 3-ring PAHs contribute to 65-80% of the total PAHs in coal spoils, with naphthalene (Nap), Chrysene (Chr), and Phenanthrene (Phe) as the dominant compounds. Based on a heating/burning simulation experiment, the production of PAHs is temperature-dependent and mainly consists of low-ring PAHs: 2-ring, 3-ring, and part of the 4-ring PAHs. The PAHs in the leachate are light-PAHs (Nap, 20.06 ng/L; Phe, 4.76 ng/L) with few heavy-PAHs. The distribution modes of PAHs in two soil profiles suggest that the precipitation caused downward movement of PAHs and higher mobility of light-PAHs.
Project description:Projected increases in aridity throughout the southwestern United States due to anthropogenic climate change will likely cause reductions in perennial vegetation cover, which leaves soil surfaces exposed to erosion. Accelerated rates of dust emission from wind erosion have large implications for ecosystems and human well-being, yet there is poor understanding of the sources and magnitude of dust emission in a hotter and drier climate. Here we use a two-stage approach to compare the susceptibility of grasslands and three different shrublands to wind erosion on the Colorado Plateau and demonstrate how climate can indirectly moderate the magnitude of aeolian sediment flux through different responses of dominant plants in these communities. First, using results from 20 y of vegetation monitoring, we found perennial grass cover in grasslands declined with increasing mean annual temperature in the previous year, whereas shrub cover in shrublands either showed no change or declined as temperature increased, depending on the species. Second, we used these vegetation monitoring results and measurements of soil stability as inputs into a field-validated wind erosion model and found that declines in perennial vegetation cover coupled with disturbance to biological soil crust resulted in an exponential increase in modeled aeolian sediment flux. Thus the effects of increased temperature on perennial plant cover and the correlation of declining plant cover with increased aeolian flux strongly suggest that sustained drought conditions across the southwest will accelerate the likelihood of dust production in the future on disturbed soil surfaces.
Project description:After centuries of range contraction, many megafauna species are recolonizing parts of Europe. One example is the red deer (Cervus elaphus), which was able to expand its range and is now found in half the areas it inhabited in the beginning of the 19th century. Herbivores are important ecosystem engineers, influencing e.g. vegetation. Knowledge on their habitat selection and their influence on ecosystems might be crucial for future landscape management, especially for hybrid and novel ecosystems emerging in post-industrial landscapes. In this study, red deer habitat selection was studied in a former brown-coal mining area in Denmark. Here, natural settings were severely changed during the mining activity and its current landscape is in large parts managed by hunters as suitable deer habitat. We assessed red deer habitat preferences through feces presence and camera traps combined with land cover data from vegetation sampling, remote sensing and official geographic data. Red deer occurrence was negatively associated with human disturbance and positively associated with forage availability, tree cover and mean terrain height. Apparently, red deer are capable of recolonizing former industrial landscapes quite well if key conditions such as forage abundance and cover are appropriate. In the absence of carnivores, human disturbance, such as a hunting regime is a main reason why deer avoid certain areas. The resulting spatial heterogeneity red deer showed in their habitat use of the study area might be a tool to preserve mosaic landscapes of forest and open habitats and thus promote biodiversity in abandoned post-industrial landscapes.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>The total amount of native vegetation is an important property of fragmented landscapes and is known to exert a strong influence on population and metapopulation dynamics. As the relationship between habitat loss and local patch and gap characteristics is strongly non-linear, theoretical models predict that immigration rates should decrease dramatically at low levels of remaining native vegetation cover, leading to patch-area effects and the existence of species extinction thresholds across fragmented landscapes with different proportions of remaining native vegetation. Although empirical patterns of species distribution and richness give support to these models, direct measurements of immigration rates across fragmented landscapes are still lacking.<h4>Methodology/principal findings</h4>Using the Brazilian Atlantic forest marsupial Gray Slender Mouse Opossum (Marmosops incanus) as a model species and estimating demographic parameters of populations in patches situated in three landscapes differing in the total amount of remaining forest, we tested the hypotheses that patch-area effects on population density are apparent only at intermediate levels of forest cover, and that immigration rates into forest patches are defined primarily by landscape context surrounding patches. As expected, we observed a positive patch-area effect on M. incanus density only within the landscape with intermediate forest cover. Density was independent of patch size in the most forested landscape and the species was absent from the most deforested landscape. Specifically, the mean estimated numbers of immigrants into small patches were lower in the landscape with intermediate forest cover compared to the most forested landscape.<h4>Conclusions/significance</h4>Our results reveal the crucial importance of the total amount of remaining native vegetation for species persistence in fragmented landscapes, and specifically as to the role of variable immigration rates in providing the underlying mechanism that drives both patch-area effects and species extinction thresholds.
Project description:A global compilation of erosion rates and modeled dust fluxes shows that dust inputs can be a large fraction of total soil inputs, particularly when erosion is slow and soil residence time is therefore long. These observations suggest that dust-derived nutrients can be vital to montane ecosystems, even when nutrient supply from bedrock is substantial. We tested this hypothesis using neodymium isotopes as a tracer of mineral phosphorus contributions to vegetation in the Sierra Nevada, California, where rates of erosion and dust deposition are both intermediate within the global compilation. Neodymium isotopes in pine needles, dust, and bedrock show that dust contributes most of the neodymium in vegetation at the site. Together, the global data sets and isotopic tracers confirm the ecological significance of dust in eroding mountain landscapes. This challenges conventional assumptions about dust-derived nutrients, expanding the plausible range of dust-reliant ecosystems to include many temperate montane regions, despite their relatively high rates of erosion and bedrock nutrient supply.
Project description:Population increase and the demand for infrastructure development such as construction of highways and road widening are intangible, leading up to mass land clearing. As flat terrains become scarce, infrastructure expansions have moved on to hilly terrains, cutting through slopes and forests. Unvegetated or bare slopes are prone to erosion due to the lack of or insufficient surface cover. The combination of exposed slope, uncontrolled slope management practices, poor slope planning and high rainfall as in Malaysia could steer towards slope failures which then results in landslides under acute situation. Moreover, due to the tropical weather, the soils undergo intense chemical weathering and leaching that elevates soil erosion and surface runoff. Mitigation measures are vital to address slope failures as they lead to economic loss and loss of lives. Since there is minimal or limited information and investigations on slope stabilization methods in Malaysia, this review deciphers into the current slope management practices such as geotextiles, brush layering, live poles, rock buttress and concrete structures. However, these methods have their drawbacks. Thus, as a way forward, we highlight the potential application of soil bioengineering methods especially on the use of whole plants. Here, we discuss the general attributions of a plant in slope stabilization including its mechanical, hydrological and hydraulic effects. Subsequently, we focus on species selection, and engineering properties of vegetation especially rooting structures and architecture. Finally, the review will dissect and assess the ecological principles for vegetation establishment with an emphasis on adopting the mix-culture approach as a slope failure mitigation measure. Nevertheless, the use of soil bioengineering is limited to low to moderate risk slopes only, while in high-risk slopes, the use of traditional engineering measure is deemed more appropriate and remain to be the solution for slope stabilization.
Project description:The slope length and slope steepness factor (LS-factor) is one of five factors of the Universal Soil Loss Equation (USLE) and its revised version (RUSLE) describing the influence of topography on soil erosion risk. The LS-factor was originally developed for slopes less than 50% inclination and has not been tested for steeper slopes. To overcome this limitation, we adapted both factors slope length L and slope steepness S for conditions experimentally observed at Swiss alpine grasslands. For the new L-factor (Lalpine), a maximal flow path threshold, corresponding to 100?m, was implemented to take into account short runoff flow paths and rapid infiltration that has been observed in our experiments. For the S-factor, a fitted quadratic polynomial function (Salpine) has been established, compiling the most extensive empirical studies. As a model evaluation, uncertainty intervals are presented for this modified S-factor. We observed that uncertainty increases with slope gradient. In summary, the proposed modification of the LS-factor to alpine environments enables an improved prediction of soil erosion risk including steep slopes. •Empirical experiments (rainfall simulation, sediment measurements) were conducted on Swiss alpine grasslands to assess the maximal flow length and slope steepness factor (S-factor).•Flow accumulation is limited to a maximal flow threshold (100?m) at which overland runoff is realistic in alpine grassland.•Slope steepness factor is modified by a fitted S-factor equation from existing empirical S-factor functions.