Soil erosion is a widespread difficulty in rural and urban Queensland. If we want to save our soils, we require to know the different types of erosion that have the right to occur.

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Water erosion

Queensland’s high strongness summer rainfalls represent a far-ranging risk that erosion by water.

Raindrops fight bare floor with enough force to rest the soil aggregates. These pieces wash right into soil pores and prevent water from infiltrating the soil. Water climate accumulates ~ above the surface and also increases runoff i m sorry takes soil with it.

Well-structured soils are less prone to break up, and the influence of raindrops is minimised if the soil surface ar is protected by tree or litter cover. The vulnerability of soils to water erosion counts on:

rainfall strongness (erosivity)—high soot rainfall creates serious risk as hefty drops on ceiling soil causes the soil surface ar to sealnature the the floor (erodibility)—clay soils vary in their capacity to stand up to raindrop impactslope length—if a steep is long, water running under the slope i do not care deeper and also moves faster, taking an ext soil v itslope steepness—the speed of runoff rises on steep slopes, which increases the power of water to rest off and carry floor particles.

Sheet and rill erosion

Hill slopes room prone to paper erosion and rill erosion. The quantity of hill steep erosion largely depends on exactly how the land is used.

Sheet erosion occurs once a thin layer the topsoil is eliminated over a totality hillside paddock—and may not be easily noticed.

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



Scalding can happen when wind and also water erosion clears the optimal soil and exposes saline or sodic soils. Raindrop affect alone can an outcome in large amounts of floor being moved. However water or wind moving over the surface ar will remove much more soil, and contribute come sheet, rill and also gully erosion.

Erosion likewise tends to eliminate the lighter, smaller sized soil particles very first (such as clay and also silt), leaving fine and also coarse sand behind.

A combination of huge amounts of well sand and tiny amounts of clay in ~ the surface means the soil tends to seal and set hard, which limits infiltration (water beginning the soil).


Gully erosion

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

For example, a waterfall may form, through runoff choose up energy as that plunges over the gully head. Splashback in ~ the basic of the gully head erodes the subsoil and also the gully eats its way up the slope.

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

This kind of erosion is very visible and affects soil productivity, restricts soil use, and also can damage roads, fences and buildings.

Gully depth is often restricted by the depth that the underlying rock which means gullies are typically less than 2m deep. However, gullies may reach depths of 10–15m ~ above deep alluvial and also colluvial soils.


Gully development may be prompted by:

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

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


Tunnel erosion

Tunnel erosion is the removed of subsoil.

When water penetrates v a soil crack or a hole whereby a root has actually decayed, the soil disperses and is carried away v the circulation to leaving a small tunnel.

Initially, the surface ar soil remains reasonably intact but, through every flow, the tunnel i do not care larger and also the floor may eventually collapse and kind a gully.

The whole procedure speeds up considerably if an outlet is noted (such as an existing 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 normally high level of sodium. Such soils are described as being sodic and are called Sodosols.

When clods of this soils room exposed to water, they readily break down into individual corpuscle of sand, silt and also clay i beg your pardon are conveniently removed together water moves with the subsoil.


Stream bank erosion

Recent floods have actually made stream bank erosion a prevalent problem throughout Queensland.

The major cause the stream financial institution erosion is the damage of vegetation top top river banks (generally through clearing, overgrazing, cultivation, automobile traffic up and down financial institutions or fire) and the removed of sand and also gravel from the stream bed.

Stream bank erosion can likewise be sped up by determinants such as:

stream bed lowering or infillinundation of financial institution soils complied with by fast drops in flow after floodingsaturation of financial institutions from off-stream sourcesredirection and also acceleration the flow around infrastructure, obstructions, debris or vegetation withinsoil attributes such as bad drainage or seams of easily erodible material within the bank profilewave activity generated by wind or watercraft washintense rainfall occasions (e.g. Cyclones).

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

Erosion top top floodplains

Some of Queensland’s best farming land is top top floodplains because of the high fertility soils and availability of water because that irrigation. These locations are subjected to high velocity floods that erode soils with insufficient surface cover.

This erosive flooding can remove the whole layer the cultivatedtopsoil exposing compacted subsoils. It is typical for such areas to it is in stripped that 0.1 come 0.15m the topsoil.

The danger of erosion top top floodplains relies on:

flood velocities—the bigger the flood, the higher the velocities

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

Mass movement

Mass activity occurs on cleared slopes in seaside areas. Heaviness moves earth, rock and also soil material downslope both slowly (millimetres per year) and also suddenly (e.g. Absent falls).

Different creates of mass motion include:

soil creepearthflowslumpinglandslipslandslidesrock avalanches.

During durations of prolonged and heavy rainfall, water start permeable soils have the right to be stopped by a barrier such as bedrock or a clay-rich soil horizon.

The hefty weight of this saturated soil have the right to slide downslope if the is sit on a rock surface ar loosened through the buildup of water in the soil.

How to avoid

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

Trees have to not be clearing from susceptible locations.

On cleared areas, plant in your ar adapted, deep-rooted, fast-growing trees.

As excessive water input is the many common cause of landslip, protect against obstructions such together dams or cross-slope drains.

Wind erosion

Wind erosion is a far-ranging problem in the arid grazing soil of inland Queensland.

It is most most likely to occur when solid winds blow over light-textured soils that have actually been heavily grazed during drought periods.

It contributes come scalding, a procedure that forms smooth, bare areas on impermeable subsoils.

These areas, which vary from a few square metres to hundreds of hectares, are complicated to revegetate early out to:

low permeabilitytheir frequently saline surface.

Generally, wind erosion is not a serious issue in cropping areas. Most soils grew in Queensland have actually a hefty texture—forming relatively huge aggregates that room too coarse come be lugged by strong winds.

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However, sandy soils are vulnerable to wind erosion because they can not store really much moisture and have low fertility. This borders their use in Queensland, v only small areas (where watering is available) being grew for horticulture or cultivation vegetables.