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Hydrologic and erosion responses to compaction and added surface cover in post-fire logged areas: Isolating splash, interrill and rill erosion

Author(s): Sergio A. Prats, Maruxa C. Malvar, Celeste O.A. Coelho, Joseph W. Wagenbrenner
Year Published: 2019

Soil compaction during post-fire logging can increase runoff and erosion. Increasing surface cover is an effective way to reduce erosion, but this has not been tested on soils impacted by both fire and compaction. We measured the effects of compaction (bulk density of 0.9 or 1.1 g cm−3) and surface cover (0% or 60%) using bark mulch or logging slash (compacted only) on runoff, leaching and erosion. Four 0.5 m2 plots per treatment were filled with burned soil and inclined to 18°. Two 30-min simulated rainfall events with 72 mm h−1 intensity and one concentrated flow event were applied to each plot. The runoff from the dry and wet runs totaled 32 mm in the uncompacted bare plots and the value was not significantly different for the compacted bare plots, any of the mulch plots, or the compacted slash plots. Leaching was higher for the uncompacted bare plots (7 mm) than for the compacted bare plots (1 mm), and mulch or slash did not affect leaching. The uncompacted bare plots produced 38 g of rainsplash and 497 g m−2 of sheetwash, and these were about half the values for the compacted bare plots. Mulching strongly reduced the rainsplash and sheetwash for both the uncompacted (10 g and 184 g m−2, respectively) and compacted conditions (19 g and 431 g m−2, respectively), although the difference in sheetwash was only significant for the uncompacted plots. Slash also reduced rainsplash (19 g) relative to the compacted bare plots (74 g) but did not affect sheetwash. Concentrated flow produced 858 g m−2 of rilling from the uncompacted bare plots, which was greater than the compacted plots (237 g m−2). Mulching reduced rilling by 95% in the uncompacted plots and 78% in the compacted plots, but slash did not reduce rilling. The reductions in rainsplash erosion caused by the mulch and slash were attributed to the increase in surface cover, which reduced the energy imparted to the soil by the rainfall. The mulch, with its high degree of contact with the soil, also reduced particle detachment and transport by overland flow. In contrast, the slash did not have complete contact with the soil surface and did not affect sheetwash or rilling. Compaction and the type of material used to increase surface cover are important factors to consider when assessing potential impacts of logging on runoff and sediment delivery from burned soils.

Citation: Prats, Sergio A.; Malvar, Maruxa C.; Coelho, Celeste O. A.; Wagenbrenner, Joseph W. 2019. Hydrologic and erosion responses to compaction and added surface cover in post-fire logged areas: isolating splash, interrill and rill erosion. Journal of Hydrology 575:408-419. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhydrol.2019.05.038
Topic(s): Fire Effects, Ecological - Second Order, Soils, Post-fire Management, Post-fire Rehabilitation, Erosion Control
Ecosystem(s): None
Document Type: Book or Chapter or Journal Article
NRFSN number: 19835
FRAMES RCS number: 58120
Record updated: Jul 22, 2019