Raindrop-induced saltation and the enrichment of sediment discharged from sheet and interrill erosion areas

Peter Kinnell

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56 Citations (Scopus)


Sheet and interrill erosion areas are sources of soil material rich in nutrients and pollutants. The loss of soil, nutrients and other chemicals from these areas is a matter of concern both in terms of maintaining soil productivity and the health of offsite environments. Many experiments on rainfall erosion have shown enrichment of fine material, nutrients and other chemicals in the sediment discharged for sheet and interrill erosion areas, but often these results were obtained over short periods of time. A qualitative mechanistic model of raindrop-induced saltation is used to illustrate how this transport mechanism influences the composition of sediment discharged by rain-impacted flow. Initially, fast moving particles are enriched in the sediment discharge but, over time, during a rainfall event, slower moving particles become more represented. Raindrop-induced saltation promotes the storage of material on the soil surface with a coarser composition than the original soil. Winnowing of material from this storage by the development of flow-driven saltation during high-intensity events can modify the composition of the sediment discharged later by raindrop-induced saltation. Given stable soil particles, the composition of the sediment discharged at the steady state is the same as the original soil. Enrichment is a non-steady-state phenomenon and failure to recognize the transient nature of enrichment may lead to inappropriate interpretation of the implications of the results from short-term experiments
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1449-1456
Number of pages8
JournalHydrological Processes
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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