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Controls on sediment production from an unpaved resource road in a Pacific maritime watershed


van Meerveld, H J; Baird, Elizabeth J; Floyd, William C (2014). Controls on sediment production from an unpaved resource road in a Pacific maritime watershed. Water Resources Research, 50(6):4803-4820.

Abstract

Unpaved resource roads have the potential to produce large amounts of sediment and can negatively impact water quality and aquatic ecology. In order to better understand the dominant controls on sediment generation from unpaved resource roads, we did 23 large-scale rainfall simulation experiments on a road section in the Honna Watershed, Haida Gwaii, British Columbia, Canada. The experiments were performed with different rainfall intensities (4–52 mm/h), with and without traffic. Precipitation intensity was the dominant control on the amount of sediment generated from the road surface; the total mass of sediment increased linearly with precipitation intensity. The number of passages of loaded logging trucks during an experiment was the second most dominant control on the total amount of sediment generated from the road surface. Elevated sediment concentrations in road surface runoff persisted for 30 min following the passage of loaded logging trucks during low intensity (<8 mm/h) rainfall events and for much shorter periods at higher rainfall intensities. The mass of sediment generated by the passage of a loaded truck increased with precipitation intensity. Passages of empty logging truck did not result in sediment pulses, except during very high rainfall intensities. Seven small-scale rainfall simulation experiments on other parts of the road, however, highlight the large spatial variability in sediment production from the road surface, suggesting additional experiments are required to better describe and predict sediment production from different road sections.

Abstract

Unpaved resource roads have the potential to produce large amounts of sediment and can negatively impact water quality and aquatic ecology. In order to better understand the dominant controls on sediment generation from unpaved resource roads, we did 23 large-scale rainfall simulation experiments on a road section in the Honna Watershed, Haida Gwaii, British Columbia, Canada. The experiments were performed with different rainfall intensities (4–52 mm/h), with and without traffic. Precipitation intensity was the dominant control on the amount of sediment generated from the road surface; the total mass of sediment increased linearly with precipitation intensity. The number of passages of loaded logging trucks during an experiment was the second most dominant control on the total amount of sediment generated from the road surface. Elevated sediment concentrations in road surface runoff persisted for 30 min following the passage of loaded logging trucks during low intensity (<8 mm/h) rainfall events and for much shorter periods at higher rainfall intensities. The mass of sediment generated by the passage of a loaded truck increased with precipitation intensity. Passages of empty logging truck did not result in sediment pulses, except during very high rainfall intensities. Seven small-scale rainfall simulation experiments on other parts of the road, however, highlight the large spatial variability in sediment production from the road surface, suggesting additional experiments are required to better describe and predict sediment production from different road sections.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
Dewey Decimal Classification:910 Geography & travel
Language:English
Date:2014
Deposited On:20 Nov 2014 12:33
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 18:30
Publisher:American Geophysical Union
ISSN:0043-1397
Additional Information:Copyright 2014 American Geophysical Union
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1002/2013WR014605

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