Title: Impact of soil characteristics and land use on pipe erosion in a temperature humid climate: Field studies in Belgium
Authors: Verachtert, Els ×
Van Den Eeckhaut, Miet
Martinez-Murillo, J.F.
Nadal-Romero, E.
Poesen, Jean
Devoldere, S.
Wijnants, N.
Deckers, Seppe #
Issue Date: Jun-2013
Publisher: Elsevier
Series Title: Geomorphology vol:192 pages:1-14
Abstract: This study investigates the role of soil characteristics and land use in the development of soil pipes in the loess
belt of Belgium. First, we tested the hypothesis that discontinuities in the soil profile enhance lateral flow and
piping by impeding vertical infiltration. We focus on discontinuities in soil characteristics that can vary with
soil depth, including texture, saturated hydraulic conductivity, penetration resistance, and bulk density. These characteristics as well as soil biological activity were studied in detail on 12 representative soil profiles for different land use types. Twelve sites were selected in the Flemish Ardennes (Belgium): four pastures with collapsed
pipes (CP), four pastures without CP, two sites under arable land without CP and two sites under forest without
CP. Secondly, this study aimed at evaluating the interaction of groundwater table positions (through soil
augerings) and CP in a larger area, with a focus on pastures. Pasture is the land use where almost all CP in the
study area are observed. Therefore, the position of the groundwater table was compared for 15 pastures with
CP and 14 pastures without CP, having comparable topographical characteristics in terms of slope gradient
and contributing area. Finally, the effect of land use history on the occurrence of pipe collapse was evaluated
for a database of 84 parcels with CP and 84 parcels without CP, currently under pasture. As to the first hypothesis,
no clear discontinuities for abiotic soil characteristics in soil profiles were observed at the depth where pipes
occur, but pastures with CP had significantly more earthworm channels and mole burrows at larger depths
(>120 cm: mean of >200 earthworm channels per m2) than pastures without CP, arable land or forest
(>120 cm depth, a few or no earthworm channels left). The land use history appeared to be similar for the pastures
with and without CP. Combining all results from soil profiles and soil augering indicates that intense biological
activity (especially by earthworms and moles), in combination with a sufficiently high groundwater
table, favours the development of soil pipes in the study area
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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