The rill experiment as a method to approach a quantification of rill erosion process activity

S. Wirtz, K.M. Seeger, J.B. Ries

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24 Citations (Scopus)


Within this paper a standardized method to quantify sediment transport and runoff in natural rills is described. In order to achieve this, several rill experiments (RE) were accomplished in March 2007 in the Arnás catchment in the Spanish Pyrenees. Both, anthropogenically initiated and naturally developed rills were flushed with a total water quantity of 72 l in 8 minutes (equivalent to 9 l min-1). For the characterisation of the rill, slope is measured and micromorphological features like scours are registered. The experiments are characterised by the flow velocities along the whole flushed rill, sediment concentrations at different points and different times during the experiment. Runoff is measured after 25 m continuously. With this data, a set of characteristic variables is generated, which reflects the infiltration and flow behaviour along the rill. By means of rainfall simulations within the rills catchments, their contributing runoff was estimated also. The tested rills were developed on average slopes oscillating between 7.6° and 11.3°, the steepest slope reached 16°. The sediment concentrations reached average values between 0.69 and 2.21 g l-1, the maximum values ranged between 1.59 and 6.31 g l-1. Comparing the sediment concentrations measured in the rills to the sediment concentrations in the runoff of the river Arnás, it can be stated that the concentrations in the rills are usually higher. Though, the runoff was to low to cause erosion. Accordingly, the runoff amount that can be produced within the rills catchments was found to be about 10-25 times higher. By means of the developed rill experiments, for which easy to handle devices were built and are described in detail, it becomes possible to assess the effectivity of individual rills in a catchment and to evaluate their hydraulic functioning as well as their geomorphodynamic activity
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-64
JournalZeitschrift für Geomorphologie
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • concentrated flow erosion
  • ephemeral gully erosion
  • sediment transport
  • resistance
  • areas
  • mine
  • soil

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