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.
|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|
|Contributing office(s)||Western Ecological Research Center|
|Other Geospatial||Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument|
|Google Analytic Metrics||Metrics page|