Post-wildfire erosion response in two geologic terrains in the western USA

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Volumes of eroded sediment after wildfires vary substantially throughout different geologic terrains across the western United States. These volumes are difficult to compare because they represent the response to rainstorms and runoff with different characteristics. However, by measuring the erosion response as the erodibility efficiency of water to detach and transport sediment on hillslopes and in channels, the erosion response from different geologic terrains can be compared. Specifically, the erodibility efficiency is the percentage of the total available stream power expended to detach, remobilize, or transport a mass of sediment. Erodibility efficiencies were calculated for the (i) initial detachment, and for the (ii) remobilization and transport of sediment on the hillslopes and in the channels after wildfire in two different geological terrains. The initial detachment efficiencies for the main channel and tributary channel in the granitic terrain were 10 ?? 9% and 5 ?? 4% and were similar to those for the volcanic terrain, which were 5 ?? 5% and 1 ?? 1%. No initial detachment efficiency could be measured for the hillslopes in the granitic terrain because hillslope measurements were started after the first major rainstorm. The initial detachment efficiency in the volcanic terrain was 1.3 ?? 0.41%. The average remobilization and transport efficiencies associated with flash floods in the channels also were similar in the granitic (0.18 ?? 0.57%) and volcanic (0.11 ?? 0.41%) terrains. On the hillslope the remobilization and transport efficiency was greater in the volcanic terrain (2.4%) than in the granitic terrain (0.65%). However, this may reflect the reduced sediment availability after the first major rainstorm (30-min maximum rainfall intensity ??? 90??mm h- 1) in the granitic terrain, while easily erodible fine colluvium remained on the hillslope after the first rainstorm (30-min maximum rainfall intensity = 7.2??mm h- 1) in the volcanic terrain. The erosion response in channels and on hillslopes of the granitic and volcanic terrains was similar when compared using erodibility efficiencies.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Post-wildfire erosion response in two geologic terrains in the western USA
Series title Geomorphology
DOI 10.1016/j.geomorph.2007.05.011
Volume 95
Issue 3-4
Year Published 2008
Language English
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Geomorphology
First page 103
Last page 118
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