Gully erosion associated with the expansion of unterraced almond cultivation in the coastal Sierra de Lujar, S. Spain.

Faulkner, Hazel P. (1995) Gully erosion associated with the expansion of unterraced almond cultivation in the coastal Sierra de Lujar, S. Spain. Land Degradation and Development, 6 (3). pp. 179-200. ISSN 1085-3278

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Abstract

Since Moorish times, the lower slopes of the Sierra de Lujar in southern Spain have been intensively cultivated. Despite steep slopes and the highly erodible nature of the local micaschist/quartzite bedrock and derivative Quaternary sequences, accelerated erosion has largely been contained throughout this history by substantial, well-maintained rock terraces. However, since 1987, European Union (EU) agricultural policy has been to encourage the cultivation of certain crops by subsidising their expanded cultivation on a per hectare basis. This has resulted in hasty clearance of native Mediterranean matorral on sites really unsuitable for the local staple crop (almonds), and erosion-prevention terraces are often absent or rudimentary. Gullying is now a very serious problem on some of these newly cleared sites. This paper identifies the lithological, topographic and agricultural policy controls on the consequent gully distribution, and then explores the pedological and hydrological controls on gully initiation on a single unterraced slope. Using these results alongside morphological data from gully surveys, a gully initiation and growth model is presented. This suggests that two types of gully are present in the area. Type 1 or upper-slope gullies are initiated by overland flows, which are relatively infrequent. By contrast, type 2 or slope-base gully initiation involves saturation and collapse in fossil landslip scars in Holocene colluvium. These two very different morphological systems may integrate through the terminal fan of the upslope gullies, in a manner described by Tiexeira de Oliveira 1990. The implications of this are that in the study area, sediment removal is associated with a very few highly productive sites. Contemporary management is briefly assessed against this model of geomorphic change in the area.

Item Type:Article
Research Areas:School of Science and Technology > Natural Sciences
Citations on ISI Web of Science:17
ID Code:4631
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Deposited On:22 Mar 2010 06:16
Last Modified:13 May 2014 15:51

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