Factors Influencing Rainsplash Erosion and Runoff in an Arid Watershed
Rainfall simulation experiments were conducted in the Fifteenmile Creek
drainage basin of north-central Wyoming to identify nonpoint sources of suspended
sediment. A portable drop-forming rainfall simulator was chosen for reasons of low
cost and low water requirements. Experiments were designed to generate 3.2 mm drops
from a height of 7.5 feet (2.3 meters) with an intensity of 3 inches (7.6 cm) per
hour. The simulated storms were applied over 73, 2' x 2' (.6 x .6 meter) plots for
the duration of one hour. These storms, with a kinetic energy of 456 joules, were
chosen as being representative of intense convective storms that occur over the
basin in the summer months.
Rates of erosion and runoff were found to be most closely related to vegetation
density, litter density, slope gradient, and soil texture. The possibility of
altered erosion and runoff rates as a result of grazing practices was also examined.
Erosion and runoff rates were then related to composite terrain types to facilitate
data analysis and display in a geographic information system.
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