Hillslope characteristics and particle size composition of surficial armoring on a semiarid watershed in the southwestern United States

  • Canfield H
  • Lopes V
  • Goodrich D
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Distributed process-based hydrologic models have been used to describe and predict the movement of sediment on small watersheds. However, to parameterize these models requires an understanding of the spatial variability of erosion processes and the particle sizes of the sediment being moved. In this study, a high resolution digital elevation model (DEM) and detailed sediment particle sampling allowed a comparison of hillslope characteristics and particle sizes of surficial armoring in a semiarid watershed. Individual particle size classes on hillslopes are correlated with the underlying sediment type, local slope, aspect, and area draining through a grid element. The strongest correlations are between the underlying sediment and overlying sediment. However, the distribution of the particle size classes is consistent with a hydrodynamic explanation for sorting. In particular, increased area draining through a grid node and increased slope are correlated with higher concentrations of the 16-64-mm particle size class. Both the coarsest and finest particle size classes are significantly correlated with the aspect of flow from a grid cell, with increased coarse particles and decreased fines on east-facing slopes. These spatial differences with aspect are attributed to dry season prevailing winds. These observations about process and spatial distribution are useful in predicting the spatial distribution of particles on the watershed for applications such as distributed hydrologic models. © 2001 Elsevier Science B.V.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Armoring
  • Digital elevation model (DEM)
  • Hillslope erosion
  • Semiarid
  • Slope aspect
  • Spatial variability

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  • Howard Evan Canfield

  • Vicente L. Lopes

  • David C. Goodrich

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