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Using beryllium-7 to monitor the relative proportions of interrill and rill erosion from loessal soil slopes in a single rainfall event

Authors

  • Gang Liu,

    1. Key Laboratory of Geological Hazards on Three Gorges Reservoir Area, Ministry of Education, China Three Gorges University, Yichang, Hubei, China
    2. State Key Laboratory of Soil Erosion and Dryland Farming on the Loess Plateau, Institute of Soil and Water Conservation, Chinese Academy of Science and Ministry of Water Resources, Northwest Sci-Tech University of Agriculture and Forestry, Yangling, Shaanxi, China
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  • Ming Yi Yang,

    Corresponding author
    1. State Key Laboratory of Soil Erosion and Dryland Farming on the Loess Plateau, Institute of Soil and Water Conservation, Chinese Academy of Science and Ministry of Water Resources, Northwest Sci-Tech University of Agriculture and Forestry, Yangling, Shaanxi, China
    • State Key Laboratory of Soil Erosion and Dryland Farming on the Loess Plateau, Institute of Soil and Water Conservation, Chinese Academy of Science and Ministry of Water Resources, Northwest Sci-Tech University of Agriculture and Forestry, Yangling, Shaanxi, 712100, China
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  • D.N. Warrington,

    1. State Key Laboratory of Soil Erosion and Dryland Farming on the Loess Plateau, Institute of Soil and Water Conservation, Chinese Academy of Science and Ministry of Water Resources, Northwest Sci-Tech University of Agriculture and Forestry, Yangling, Shaanxi, China
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  • Pu Ling Liu,

    1. State Key Laboratory of Soil Erosion and Dryland Farming on the Loess Plateau, Institute of Soil and Water Conservation, Chinese Academy of Science and Ministry of Water Resources, Northwest Sci-Tech University of Agriculture and Forestry, Yangling, Shaanxi, China
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  • Jun Liang Tian

    1. State Key Laboratory of Soil Erosion and Dryland Farming on the Loess Plateau, Institute of Soil and Water Conservation, Chinese Academy of Science and Ministry of Water Resources, Northwest Sci-Tech University of Agriculture and Forestry, Yangling, Shaanxi, China
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Abstract

Quantifying the relative proportions of soil losses due to interrill and rill erosion processes during erosion events is an important factor in predicting total soil losses and sediment transport and deposition. Beryllium-7 (7Be) can provide a convenient way to trace sediment movement over short timescales providing information that can potentially be applied to longer-term, larger-scale erosion processes. We used simulated rainstorms to generate soil erosion from two experimental plots (5 m × 4 m; 25° slope) containing a bare, hand-cultivated loessal soil, and measured 7Be activities to identify the erosion processes contributing to eroded material movement and/or deposition in a flat area at the foot of the slope. Based on the mass balance of 7Be detected in the eroded soil source and in the sediments, the proportions of material from interrill and rill erosion processes were estimated in the total soil losses, the deposited sediments in the flat area, and in the suspended sediments discharged from the plots. The proportion of interrill eroded material in the discharged sediment decreased over time as that of rill eroded material increased. The amount of deposited material was greatly affected by overland flow rates. The estimated amounts of rill eroded material calculated using 7Be activities were in good agreement with those based on physical measurements of total plot rill volumes. Although time lags of 45 and 11 minutes existed between detection of sediment being removed by rill erosion, based on 7Be activities, and observed rill initiation times, our results suggest that the use of 7Be tracer has the potential to accurately quantify the processes of erosion from bare, loessal cultivated slopes and of deposition in flatter, downslope areas that occur in single rainfall events. Such measurements could be applied to estimate longer-term erosion occurring over larger areas possessing similar landforms. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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