Applicability of Different Hydraulic Parameters to Describe Soil Detachment in Eroding Rills

S. Wirtz, K.M. Seeger, A. Zell, C. Wagner, J.F. Wagner, J.B. Ries

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


This study presents the comparison of experimental results with assumptions used in numerical models. The aim of the field experiments is to test the linear relationship between different hydraulic parameters and soil detachment. For example correlations between shear stress, unit length shear force, stream power, unit stream power and effective stream power and the detachment rate does not reveal a single parameter which consistently displays the best correlation. More importantly, the best fit does not only vary from one experiment to another, but even between distinct measurement points. Different processes in rill erosion are responsible for the changing correlations. However, not all these procedures are considered in soil erosion models. Hence, hydraulic parameters alone are not sufficient to predict detachment rates. They predict the fluvial incising in the rill's bottom, but the main sediment sources are not considered sufficiently in its equations. The results of this study show that there is still a lack of understanding of the physical processes underlying soil erosion. Exerted forces, soil stability and its expression, the abstraction of the detachment and transport processes in shallow flowing water remain still subject of unclear description and dependence.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere64861
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • gravel-bed streams
  • sediment transport capacity
  • concentrated flow
  • bedload transport
  • molecular dimensions
  • aggregate transport
  • size distribution
  • erosion process
  • load transport
  • natural rivers

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