Gully, channel and hillslope erosion - an assessment for a traditionally managed catchment

G Hancock, Kenneth Evans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Understanding landscape features such as gullying and soil erosion is an important issue in the long‐term dynamics and evolution of both natural, agricultural and rehabilitated (i.e. post‐mining) landscapes. Considerable research has been undertaken examining the initiation, movement and overall dynamics of such features. This study reports on a series of 34 gully heads and other erosion features, such as scour holes (five in total), located in channels in a catchment largely undisturbed by European activity in the Northern Territory, Australia over a 5 year period (2002–2007). During this period the erosion features were monitored for their headward advance/retreat, enlargement or in‐filling. The erosion features ranged in depth from 0.2 m to 1.5 m and widths of 0.3 m to 8 m. Hillslope erosion was also monitored using erosion pins. The catchment was subject to a range of rainfall regimes including extreme rainfall and a Category 5 cyclone and also was burnt every second year so that all grass cover was removed according to traditional management practice. The results of this monitoring show that the erosion features have changed little during this 5 year period. A remote sensing assessment found no relationship between erosion feature morphology and hillslope erosion. The monitored gullies heads and scour holes appear to be resilient landscape features, yet have a morphology that suggests they are ready for rapid headward movement and expansion, leading to a destabilisation of the catchment. Hillslope erosion was found to be related to wetness indices derived from a digital elevation model. Significant linkages were found between hillslope erosion and change in erosion feature depth, indicative of a strong hillslope–channel coupling.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1468-1479
Number of pages12
JournalEarth Surface Processes and Landforms
Volume35
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sep 2010
Externally publishedYes

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