A series of controlled laboratory experiments were conducted in order to obtain precise data on the hydraulic and sediment transport conditions during rill formation. Tests were carried out using a crusting‐prone binary mixed soil in a 15 m long flume at an average slope of 0·087 under simulated rainfall. Rainfall intensities varied from 30–35 mm h−1 and developed about 70 per cent of the kinetic energy of natural rainfall of similar intensity. Runoff and sediment discharge measured at the downstream weir were strongly influenced by rill forming processes. Essentially, rill incision reduced runoff discharge as a result of increased percolation in rill channels but increased sediment discharge. Secondary entrainment processes, such as bank collapse, also increased sediment discharge at the weir. Knickpoint bifurcation and colluvial deposition, however, decreased sediment discharge. Rills always developed through the formation of a knickpoint. The critical condition for knickpoint initiation was the development of supercritical flow and waves which mould and incise the bed. Prior smoothing of the soil surface by entrainment and redistribution of sediment facilitated supercritical flow. Statistical analysis showed that hydraulic and sediment transport conditions differed significantly in rilled and unrilled flows. The relationship between sediment discharge, rill erosion, and flow hydraulics was found to be nonlinear, conforming to a standard power function in the form y = axb. Rills were also associated with significantly increased sediment transport capacities. However, rill initiation was not clearly defined by any specific hydraulic threshold. Instead, rilled and unrilled flows were separated by zones of transition within which both types of flow occur.
Earth Surface Processes and Landforms – Wiley
Published: Mar 1, 1992
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