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Measuring medium-term sheet erosion in gullies from trees: A case study using dendrogeomorphological analysis of exposed pine roots in central Iberia



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Bodoque del Pozo, José María and Lucía Vela, Ana and Ballesteros Cánovas, Juan Antonio and Martín Duque, José Francisco and Rubiales Jiménez, Juan Manuel and Génova Fúster, Mª del Mar (2011) Measuring medium-term sheet erosion in gullies from trees: A case study using dendrogeomorphological analysis of exposed pine roots in central Iberia. Geomorphology, 134 . pp. 417-425. ISSN 0169-555X

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Official URL: http://www.elsevier.com/wps/product/cws_home/503334/description


The assessment of gully erosion poses a great challenge because of the complexity and connectivity of the geomorphic processes involved. This study focuses on the quantification of sheet erosion rates in a set of slope gullies located on the northern piedmont of the Guadarrama Mountains (Spanish Central System). In order to delineate accurately the gully areas in which sheet erosion was predominant, the Hydrologic/Erosion Response Unit (HRU/ERU) approach was used and a dendrogeomorphological analysis of exposed tree roots was carried out to quantify sheet erosion rates in one selected HRU/ERU. Identification of the first year of exposure by erosion from anatomical criteria was therefore critical. The 29 samples taken were prepared for anatomical analysis and cross-dated. Anatomical analysis of the samples showed a reduction in the lumen area of earlywood tracheids following root exposure and also, in most cases, a slight increase in growth rings. Moreover, at the end of the ring, latewood tissue and visible annual borders were very clearly defined by several rows of thick-walled tracheids. A non-parametric test was used on the findings derived from this qualitative analysis to objectify determination of the first year of exposure. Estimates of sheet erosion were obtained by dividing the height of eroded soil by the number of years that each root was exposed. The mean value of soil erosion for the entire study site was then determined from statistical inference. Using this procedure, a range of sheet erosion rates between 6.2 and 8.8 mm y−1 (125.2 and 177.8 t ha−1 year−1) was obtained for the dominant HRU/ERU of these gullies in central Iberia. These estimates of eroded soil thickness were adjusted based on the recent finding that root anatomical changes occur prior to their exposure by erosion.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:Hydrologic/erosion response units; Dendrogeomorphology; Sheet wash/erosion; Wood anatomy; Pinus pinaster Ait.; Spanish Central System
Subjects:Sciences > Geology > Geodynamics
ID Code:19990
Deposited On:18 Feb 2013 13:44
Last Modified:11 Dec 2014 08:49

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