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Structure-from-Motion Photogrammetry and Rare Earth Oxides can quantify diffuse and convergent soil loss and source apportionment

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  • Pia Benaud
  • Karen Anderson
  • Mike R. James
  • Timothy A. Quine
  • John N. Quinton
  • Richard E. Brazier
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>31/12/2023
<mark>Journal</mark>International Soil and Water Conservation Research
Issue number4
Number of pages16
Pages (from-to)633-648
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date29/09/23
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Accurately quantifying rates of soil erosion requires capturing both the volumetric nature of the visible, convergent fluvial pathways (also known as rills) and the subtle nature of the less-visible, diffuse pathways (interrill areas). The aim of this study was to use Rare Earth Oxide (REO) tracers and Structure-from-Motion (SfM) photogrammetry to elucidate retrospective information about soil erosion rates and sediment sources during different soil erosion conditions, within a controlled laboratory environment. The experimental conditions created erosion events consistent with diffuse and convergent erosion processes. REO tracers allowed the sediment transport distances of over 2 m to be described, and helped resolved the relative contribution of diffuse and convergent soil erosion; interrill areas were also identified as a significant sediment sources soil loss under convergent erosion conditions. While the potential for SfM photogrammetry to resolve sub-millimetre elevations changes was demonstrated, under some conditions non-erosional changes in surface elevation, such as compaction, exceeded volumes of soil loss via diffuse erosion. The discrepancies between SfM Photogrammetry calculations and REO tagged sediment export were beneficial, identifying that during soil erosion events sediment in both aggregate and particle form is deposited within the convergent features, even when the rill extended the full length of the soil surface. The combination of SfM photogrammetry and REO tracers has provided a novel platform for building a spatial understanding of patterns of soil loss and source apportionment between rill and interrill erosion.