Threshold velocities for input of soil particles into the air by desert soils


  • Dale A. Gillette,

  • John Adams,

  • Albert Endo,

  • Dudley Smith,

  • Rolf Kihl


Desert soils mostly from the Mojave Desert were tested for threshold friction velocity (the friction velocity above which soil erosion takes place) with an open-bottomed portable wind tunnel. Several geomorphological settings were chosen to be representative of much of the surface of the Mojave Desert, for example, playas, alluvial fans, and aeolian features. Variables which increase threshold velocity are decreasing proportion of sand, increasing size of dry aggregates of the soil, and increasing fraction of the soil mass larger than 1 mm. Threshold velocity increases with different types of soil surfaces in the following order: distrubed soils (except disturbed heavy clay soils), sand dunes, alluvial and aeolian sand deposits, disturbed playa soils, skirts of playas, playa centers, and desert pavements (alluvial deposits).