Journal of environmental management vol:90 issue:11 pages:3458-3469
Soil analyses and measurements with the Portable In Situ Wind Erosion Laboratory (PI-SWERL) were conducted on 16 soil types in an area heavily affected by off-road vehicle (ORV) driving. Measurements were performed in ORV trails as well as on undisturbed terrain to investigate how ORV driving affects the vulnerability of a soil to emit PM10 (particles < 10 mu m), during the driving as well as during episodes of wind erosion. Particular attention is paid to how the creation of a new trail affects those properties of the topsoil that determine its capability to emit PM10. Also, recommendations are given for adequate management of ORV-designed areas. The type of surface (sand, silt, gravel, drainage) is a key factor with respect to dust emission in an ORV trail. Trails in sand, defined in this study as the grain size fraction 63-2000 mu m, show higher deflation thresholds (the critical wind condition at which wind erosion starts) than the surrounding undisturbed soil. Trails in silt (2-63 mu m) and in drainages, on the other hand, have lower deflation thresholds than undisturbed soil. The increase in PM10 emission resulting from the creation of a new ORV trail is much higher for surfaces with silt than for surfaces with sand. Also, the creation of a new trail in silt decreases the supply limitation in the top layer: the capacity of the reservoir of emission-available PM10 increases. For sand the situation is reversed: the supply limitation increases, and the capacity of the PM10 reservoir decreases. Finally, ORV trails are characterized by a progressive coarsening of the top layer with time, but the speed of coarsening is much lower in trails in silt than in trails in sand or in drainages. The results of this study suggest that, to minimize emissions of PM10, new ORV fields should preferably be designed on sandy terrain rather than in silt areas or in drainages. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.