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Gully head modelling: a Mediterranean badland case study

Dino Torri, Jean Poesen, Mauro Rossi, Valerio Amici, Daniele Spennacchi, Cati Cremer

Predicting the location of gully heads in various environments is an important step towards predicting gully erosion rates. So far, field data collection and modelling of topographic thresholds for gully head development has mainly focussed on gullies that formed in forested areas, rangelands, pastures and cropland. Such information for gullies in badlands however is very scarce. Therefore, this paper aims to extend the database on gully head topographical thresholds through data collection in a badland area and to improve the prediction on gully heads forming at sites with a very low erosion resistance value. For this, we chose a badland site located in central Italy that is characterized by biancana forms and both active and dormant gullies. The definition of the conditions under which present‐day gully heads developed allowed a better modelling of the gully head threshold equation, with modification of a previous model and the exemplification of how to use the updated model. The model shows that the resistance to gully head retreat depends on slope gradient and drainage area at gully heads, land use at the moment of gully development (as numerically expressed using parameters derived from the Runoff Curve Number method), surface rock fragment cover, presence of joints, pipes, and factors/processes affecting detachment rate. This study attempted to better understand environmental conditions that control the development of gully heads in badlands through a combination of field data collection of gully heads, an analysis of land use changes over 10 centuries, focusing on the period 1820‐2005, and land use management through repeat photography and a critical examination of historical documents.


Earth Surface Processes and Landforms (11 May 2018), https://doi.org/10.1002/esp.4414 
Key: INRMM:14587277

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