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Quantifying detachment rate of eroding rill or ephemeral gully for WEPP with flume experiments

Zhang, Qingwen, Dong, Yuequn, Li, Fang, Zhang, Aiping, Lei, Tingwu
Journal of hydrology 2014 v.519 pp. 2012-2019
Water Erosion Prediction Project, bulk density, equations, loess soils, pollution load, ravines, runoff, sediment yield, sediments, streams, water flow
Ephemeral gullies or rills are major sediment sources and the primary channel to convey runoff and sediments from hillslopes. Quantifying the detachment rate is important for understanding the erosion process of ephemeral gullies. This study suggests a method to estimate the detachment rate for use in WEPP model, using sediment distribution data along an eroding rill or ephemeral gully under controlled flume experiments, conducted at four slope gradients (8.74%, 17.62%, 26.78%, and 36.38%) and four flow rates (32, 64, 128 and 256Lmin−1). The experimental soil materials were packed into the flume of 0.5m wide, 0.6m deep and 12m long, to a thickness of 0.5m at a bulk density of 1300kgm−3. Regulated water flow was introduced to soil surface at the upper end of flumes. The detachment rate was calculated from the spatial distribution data of sediment concentrations measured with sediment-laden water samples simultaneously taken along the gullies at one meter intervals. Results showed that the detachment rate was well fitted with downslope distance along the rill or ephemeral gully by an exponential equation. The regression parameters indicated that detachment rate decreases linearly with sediment load in the gully flow. The feedback relationship between sediment load and detachment rate in rill or ephemeral gullies could be adequately represented by the first-order coupling equation for loess soil under steep slopes and high flow rates. The detachment rates along the rills or ephemeral gullies were found to increase with slope gradient and flow rate and the detachment rate was positively related to unit stream power and the deficit between max sediment load and the local sediment load.