Effects of rainfall intensity and slope gradient on the dynamics of interrill erosion during soil surface sealing

S. Assouline, M. Ben-Hur

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

280 Scopus citations


Soil erosion during rainfall is strongly affected by runoff and slope steepness. Runoff production is drastically increased when a seal is formed at the soil surface during rainfall. Therefore, a complex interaction exists between soil erosion and surface sealing. In this study, the dynamics of interrill erosion during seal formation is studied under different simulated rainfall and slope conditions. A sandy soil was exposed to 70 mm of rainfall at two intensities, 24 mm h- 1 and 60 mm h- 1, and five slope gradients, from 5% to 25%. Infiltration, runoff and soil loss rates were monitored during rainfall. Final infiltration rates increased with slope gradient at both rainfall intensities, this effect being stronger for the higher intensity. Cumulative runoff at the end of the rainfall event was lower as slopes were steeper, while an opposite trend was obtained for soil loss. For the 5% and the 9% slopes, the sediment concentration in runoff reached quickly a stable value during the whole rainfall event, while it reached a peak value before declining for the higher slopes. The peak value and its timing were rainfall intensity dependent. Soil erodibility during seal formation was evaluated using two empirical multiplication-of-factors type models. It seems that slope and rainfall erosivity are accounted for only partly in these models. For mild slope gradients below 9%, the value of Ki estimated by means of the two expressions becomes practically constant shortly after runoff apparition. Consequently, the estimates resulting from this type of expressions remain valuable from the practical point of view.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)211-220
Number of pages10
Issue number3
StatePublished - 30 Jun 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Erodibility
  • Erosion
  • Infiltration
  • Sediment concentration
  • Soil sealing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth-Surface Processes


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