Title: Factors controlling the spatial distribution of soil piping erosion on loess-derived soils: a case study from central Belgium
Authors: Verachtert, Els ×
Van Den Eeckhaut, Miet
Poesen, Jean
Deckers, Jozef A. #
Issue Date: Jun-2010
Publisher: Elsevier
Series Title: Geomorphology vol:118 issue:3-4 pages:339-348
Abstract: Collapsible loess-derived soils are prone to soil piping erosion, where enlargement of macropores may lead
to a subsurface pipe network and eventually to soil collapse and gully development. This study aims at
understanding the main factors controlling spatial patterns of piping in loess-derived soils under a temperate
climate. To map the spatial distribution of piping and identify the environmental controls on its distribution,
a regional survey was carried out in a 236 km² study area in the Flemish Ardennes (Belgium). Orthophotos
taken at optimal field conditions (winter) were analyzed to detect piping in open landscapes and ground
thruthing was systematically done through field surveys. In total, 137 parcels having 560 collapsed pipes
were mapped. Dimensions of the sinkholes and local slope gradient were measured in the field and
topographical variables were derived from LiDAR data. Land use plays an important role as 97% of the sites
with piping are found under pasture. The probability of piping increases rapidly on hillslopes with gradients
exceeding 8% and with a concave profile and plan curvature, enhancing subsurface flow concentration. The
zones with soil profiles on shallow loess over a relatively thin layer of homogeneous blue massive clays
(Aalbeke Member) are most prone to piping. Soil characteristics are of less importance to explain piping
occurrence. Furthermore, the topographical threshold line indicating the critical slope gradient for a given
contributing drainage area was determined. This threshold line (negative power relation) is similar to the
threshold line for shallow gully initiation.
ISSN: 0169-555X
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: IT
Appears in Collections:Division of Geography & Tourism
Division Soil and Water Management
× corresponding author
# (joint) last author

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