Soil Erosion and Sediment Transport from Gullies

by Robert F. Piest, (M.ASCE), Hydr. Engr.; Watershed Research Unit, North Central Region, Agricultural Research Service, USDA, Columbia, Mo.,
George M. Wyatt, Hydrologic Tech.; Watershed Research Unit, North Central Region, Agricultural Research Service, USDA, Columbia, Mo.,
Joe M. Bradford, Soil Scientist; Watershed Research Unit, North Central Region, Agricultural Research Service, USDA, Columbia, Mo.,


Serial Information: Journal of the Hydraulics Division, 1975, Vol. 101, Issue 1, Pg. 65-80


Document Type: Journal Paper

Abstract: Field observations of four gullied watersheds, 74 acres to 150 acres (30 ha-61 ha) in size, showed that gully erosion was one-fifth of the total sediment yield during a 9-yr period. Erosion rates were dependent upon mass wasting of loessial gully banks and headcuts. For the nonconservation watersheds, tractive forces exerted by runoff on the channel boundary did not detach appreciable amounts of undisturbed soil but were more than adequate to entrain the soil debris yielded by mass-wasting processes. Gully erosion was minimal on conservation watersheds; the runoff was generally below the levels required for gully debris removal, and the degree of slope was reduced to a stable value. Soil mechanics principles, applied to strength/stability aspects of gully banks in western Iowa, indicate that the height of the water table, soil cohesive strength, and rate of water infiltration are controlling factors. Initial field and laboratory model experiments have provided insight into variables that affect the mass-wasting process.

Subject Headings: Sediment transport | Erosion | Watersheds | Sediment | Soil strength | Soil water | Debris | Runoff | Water table | Iowa

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