Disruption rates for one vulnerable soil in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Arizona, USA

Journal of Arid Environments
By: , and 



Rates of soil disruption from hikers and vehicle traffic are poorly known, particularly for arid landscapes. We conducted an experiment in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument (ORPI) in western Arizona, USA, on an air-dry very fine sandy loam that is considered to be vulnerable to disruption. We created variable-pass tracks using hikers, an all-terrain vehicle (ATV), and a four-wheel drive vehicle (4WD) and measured changes in cross-track topography, penetration depth, and bulk density. Hikers (one pass = 5 hikers) increased bulk density and altered penetration depth but caused minimal surface disruption up to 100 passes; a minimum of 10 passes were required to overcome surface strength of this dry soil. Both ATV and 4WD traffic significantly disrupted the soil with one pass, creating deep ruts with increasing passes that rendered the 4WD trail impassable after 20 passes. Despite considerable soil loosening (dilation), bulk density increased in the vehicle trails, and lateral displacement created berms of loosened soil. This soil type, when dry, can sustain up to 10 passes of hikers but only one vehicle pass before significant soil disruption occurs; greater disruption is expected when soils are wet. Bulk density increased logarithmically with applied pressure from hikers, ATV, and 4WD.

Study Area

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Disruption rates for one vulnerable soil in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Arizona, USA
Series title Journal of Arid Environments
DOI 10.1016/j.jaridenv.2013.03.016
Volume 95
Year Published 2013
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Western Ecological Research Center
Description 9 p.
First page 75
Last page 83
Country United States
State Arizona
Other Geospatial Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument
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