Title: Medium-term evolution of a gully developed in a loess-derived soil
Authors: Nachtergaele, Jeroen ×
Poesen, Jean
Oostwoud Wijdenes, D
Vandekerckhove, Liesbeth #
Issue Date: Aug-2002
Publisher: Elsevier science bv
Series Title: Geomorphology vol:46 issue:3-4 pages:223-239
Abstract: Field surveys in the Belgian loess belt revealed the presence in many forested areas of large, permanent gully systems, most of which are currently inactive. In cultivated areas, such gullies can only be observed in cross-sectional soil profiles through hollows, as virtually all such large gullies are currently infilled with colluvium. Little is known about the spatial distribution, initiation and temporal evolution of these large, permanent gully systems on loess-derived soils. Therefore, the medium-term evolution of a gully initiated in a cultivated area on loess-derived soils southwest of Leuven (Belgium) in May-June 1986, was studied over 13 years. Two intense rainfall events created this (ephemeral) gully, which was not erased by subsequent tillage. Between June 1986 and the December 1999, eight field surveys were conducted to measure gully dimensions. During two surveys, topographic indices (e.g., slope and drainage area) were also measured. Daily rainfall for the measuring period were obtained from a rainfall station located some 10 km southwest of the gully. Analysis of rainfall data showed that no extreme rainfall event was required to initiate such large (permanent) gullies, as observed in forested areas and through cross-sectional profiles in cultivated fields in the Belgian loess belt. Return periods of the event that caused the gully varied between < 1 year and 25 years, depending on the assumptions used for defining event rain intensity. Once established, length, surface area and volume of the studied gully evolved with time, cumulative rainfall or cumulative runoff, following a negative exponential relation. This accords with observations reported for gullies in Australia and the USA. This study shows that a degressive increase of gully extension, can be largely explained by the evolution of a "slope-drainage area" factor (S X A, which is proportional to stream power) with time. While gully length and gully surface area asymptotically evolve towards a final value, gully volume decreased at a given point in time. From this, it is inferred that sediment deposition will potentially infill the gully to such an extent that the farmer can drive across it. From this moment on, the combined effect of water and tillage erosion in the gully drainage area, will lead towards rapid infilling. This expected evolution of a gully in cultivated fields accords with observations of large infilled gully systems in cultivated areas in eastern Belgium. The permanent gullies observed under forest are attributed to the fact that after severe gully erosion, this area was reforested or abandoned. Therefore, the sediment source was cut off and the gully was not filled in by sediment deposition. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science B.V All rights reserved.
ISSN: 0169-555X
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: IT
Appears in Collections:Division of Geography & Tourism
× corresponding author
# (joint) last author

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