Suitability of transport equations in modelling soil erosion for a small Loess Plateau catchment

R. Hessel, V.G. Jetten

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Erosion models have not often been applied to very steep terrain such as the gully catchments of the Chinese Loess Plateau. The purpose of this research was to evaluate the suitability of a number of transport equations for use in erosion modelling under Loess Plateau conditions. To do this the equations were programmed into the LISEM model, which was applied to the 3.5 km2 Danangou catchment in the rolling hills region of the Loess Plateau. Previous evaluations of transport equations used either flume tests or river sections, and did no spatial modelling. The results show that some equations predicted physically impossible concentrations (defined as above 1060 g/l). The results were evaluated by using two methods: 1) by comparing predicted and measured sedigraphs and sediment yield at the catchment outlet, and 2) by comparing the fraction of the catchment in which physically impossible transport capacities occurred. The results indicated that for the small grain sizes, high density flows and steep slopes of the gully catchments on the Loess Plateau the Shields parameter attained very high values. Furthermore, the transport threshold can usually be neglected in the equations. Most of the resulting equations were too sensitive to slope angle (Abrahams, Schoklitsch, Yalin, Bagnold, Low and Rickenmann), so that transport rates were overpredicted for steep slopes and underpredicted for gentle slopes. The Yang equation appeared to be too sensitive to grainsize. The Govers equation performed best, mainly because of its low slope dependency, and is therefore recommended for erosion models that simulate sediment transport by flowing water in conditions with small grain sizes and steep slopes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)56-71
JournalEngineering Geology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • interrill overland-flow
  • sediment transport
  • rough surfaces
  • capacity
  • lisem

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