Soil erosion is a widespread difficulty in rural and urban Queensland. If we want to save our soils, we need to know the different species of erosion that can occur.

You are watching: Compare and contrast rill and gully erosion

Water erosion

Queensland’s high strongness summer rainfalls stand for a far-ranging risk the erosion by water.

Raindrops struggle bare soil with sufficient force to break the soil aggregates. These pieces wash into soil pores and also prevent water indigenous infiltrating the soil. Water then accumulates on the surface and increases runoff i beg your pardon takes soil v it.

Well-structured soils are much less prone to rest up, and the affect of raindrops is minimised if the soil surface is safeguarded by plant or litter cover. The vulnerability the soils come water erosion depends on:

rainfall intensity (erosivity)—high intensity rainfall creates significant risk as heavy drops on ceiling soil reasons the soil surface to sealnature the the floor (erodibility)—clay soils differ in their capability to stand up to raindrop impactslope length—if a steep is long, water running down the slope becomes deeper and moves faster, taking an ext soil through itslope steepness—the speed of runoff increases on steep slopes, which increases the power of water to break off and carry soil particles.

Sheet and rill erosion

Hill slopes space prone to paper erosion and rill erosion. The amount of hill steep erosion largely depends on just how the land is used.

Sheet erosion occurs once a thin layer of topsoil is eliminated over a whole hillside paddock—and may not be conveniently noticed.

Rill erosion occurs as soon as runoff water forms tiny channels together it concentrates under a slope. These rills can be up to 0.3m deep. If lock become any deeper 보다 0.3m lock are referred to as gully erosion.



Scalding can take place when wind and also water erosion clears the top soil and also exposes saline or sodic soils. Raindrop impact alone can an outcome in huge amounts of floor being moved. However water or wind relocating over the surface will remove an ext soil, and contribute come sheet, rill and gully erosion.

Erosion likewise tends to remove the lighter, smaller soil particles an initial (such together clay and silt), leaving fine and coarse sand behind.

A combination of large amounts of well sand and little amounts the clay at the surface way the soil has tendency to seal and collection hard, which borders infiltration (water beginning the soil).


Gully erosion

Gully erosion happens as soon as runoff concentrates and flows strongly sufficient to detach and also move floor particles.

For example, a waterfall might form, with runoff picking up power as it plunges end the gully head. Splashback at the basic of the gully head erodes the subsoil and also the gully eats its means up the slope.

Gullies may construct in watercourses or other areas where runoff concentrates. In farming or pastures, advanced rill erosion can construct into gully erosion.

This type of erosion is highly visible and also affects floor productivity, restricts floor use, and can damages roads, fences and also buildings.

Gully depth is often limited by the depth that the underlying rock which way gullies are typically less than 2m deep. However, gullies might reach depths of 10–15m top top deep alluvial and also colluvial soils.


Gully advancement may be triggered by:

cultivation or grazing ~ above soils vulnerable to gully erosionincreased runoff indigenous land use changes such together tree clearing in a catchment or construction of new residential areasrunoff concentration resulted in by furrows, contour banks, waterways, dam bywashes, share pads, fences, monitor or roadsimproper design, construction or maintenance of waterways in cropping areaslow flows or seepage flows end a long period‘down cutting’ in a creek that reasons gullies to development up the drainage currently flowing into itdiversion that a drainage line to one area of high erosion risk, such together a steep creek financial institution or soil that is highly prone to erosion.

Read more about gully erosion (PDF, 200KB).


Tunnel erosion

Tunnel erosion is the removal of subsoil.

When water penetrates through a floor crack or a hole whereby a root has actually decayed, the floor disperses and also is lugged away with the circulation to leaving a small tunnel.

Initially, the surface soil remains fairly intact but, through every flow, the tunnel becomes larger and also the floor may ultimately collapse and kind a gully.

The whole process speeds up substantially if one outlet is noted (such together an currently gully or cut in a roadside) as this allows cost-free flow of subsurface drainage water.

Soils breakable to tunnel erosion have actually dispersible subsoils with naturally high level of sodium. Such soils are described as being sodic and also are called Sodosols.

When clods of these soils space exposed to water, they readily malfunction into individual particles of sand, silt and clay i beg your pardon are easily removed together water moves v the subsoil.


Stream financial institution erosion

Recent floods have actually made stream bank erosion a extensive problem across Queensland.

The significant cause the stream bank erosion is the devastation of vegetation ~ above river financial institutions (generally by clearing, overgrazing, cultivation, auto traffic up and also down financial institutions or fire) and also the removed of sand and also gravel native the present bed.

Stream bank erosion can also be accelerated by factors such as:

stream bed lowering or infillinundation of financial institution soils followed by fast drops in flow after floodingsaturation of financial institutions from off-stream sourcesredirection and acceleration of flow approximately infrastructure, obstructions, debris or vegetation withinsoil characteristics such as bad drainage or seams of readily erodible product within the bank profilewave action generated by wind or watercraft washintense rainfall occasions (e.g. Cyclones).

Read an ext aboutwhat causes bank erosion (PDF, 161KB) andwhat reasons stream bed erosion (PDF, 645KB).

Erosion top top floodplains

Some the Queensland’s best farming land is on floodplains due to the fact that of the high fertility soils and access of water because that irrigation. These locations are based on high velocity floods the erode soils with inadequate surface cover.

This erosive flooding deserve to remove the whole layer of cultivatedtopsoil exposing compacted subsoils. The is typical for such locations to be stripped of 0.1 come 0.15m of topsoil.

The danger of erosion on floodplains relies on:

flood velocities—the larger the flood, the higher the velocities

Problems can additionally occur at the finish of a flood event when slow relocating water flows over saturated soils.

Mass movement

Mass motion occurs on cleared slopes in seaside areas. Gravity moves earth, rock and also soil product downslope both slowly (millimetres per year) and also suddenly (e.g. Rock falls).

Different develops of mass motion include:

soil creepearthflowslumpinglandslipslandslidesrock avalanches.

During periods of an extensive and hefty rainfall, water start permeable soils have the right to be quit by a obstacle such as radical or a clay-rich soil horizon.

The hefty weight of this saturation soil can slide downslope if the is sit on a rock surface loosened through the accumulation of water in the soil.

How to avoid

It is better to avoid landslides 보다 pay for expensive, time-consuming rehabilitation which might only be partly effective.

Trees need to not be clearing from at risk locations.

On cleared areas, plant locally adapted, deep-rooted, fast-growing trees.

As extreme water input is the most common cause of landslip, avoid obstructions such together dams or cross-slope drains.

Wind erosion

Wind erosion is a significant problem in the arid grazing soil of inland Queensland.

It is most most likely to take place when solid winds punch over light-textured soils that have been heavily grazed during drought periods.

It contributes to scalding, a process that forms smooth, bare locations on impermeable subsoils.

These areas, which differ from a few square metres to thousands of hectares, are an overwhelming to revegetate early out to:

low permeabilitytheir frequently saline surface.

Generally, wind erosion is not a serious issue in cropping areas. Many soils cultivated in Queensland have a heavy texture—forming relatively large aggregates that space too coarse come be carried by solid winds.

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However, sandy soils are breakable to wind erosion due to the fact that they cannot store really much moisture and have low fertility. This boundaries their use in Queensland, through only little areas (where watering is available) being grew for horticulture or cultivation vegetables.