Rain simulation experiments conducted in the western Mojave Desert, California, indicate that the use of off-road vehicles on arid lands increases the amount and frequency of water runoff and sheet-wash erosion. Detailed experiments with controlled motorcycle traffic over a loamy sand typical of this region, reveal that these responses are due to a decrease in soil porosity, infiltration capacity, effectiveness of surface stabilizers and hydraulic resistance to overland flow. These effects, which can result even under low vehicle use, tend to be long lived, particularly in arid areas where the slow rates of soil formation render soil loss practically irreversible on a human time scale. Our results suggest that increases in pluvial erosion following ORV use on most slopes are inevitable, but that the magnitudes of those increases are least in areas of low-intensity and duration rains, high natural infiltration rate, low slope and abundant surface sand and gravel. Thus, adverse effects can be minimized by restricting vehicular use to those areas that are naturally least vulnerable or to those that have already been impacted. Moreover, impact can be decreased by avoiding vehicular use where the soil is most susceptible to compaction and structural disruption, as when the soil moisture content is relatively high. (Author)

  • Corporate Authors:

    Stanford University

    Stanford, CA  United States  94305

    Army Research Office

    P.O. Box 12211
    Research Triangle Pk, NC  United States  27709
  • Authors:
    • Hallet, B
    • Iverson, R M
    • Hinckley, B S
    • Webb, R H
  • Publication Date: 1981-2-29

Media Info

  • Pagination: 16 p.

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00337659
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: National Technical Information Service
  • Report/Paper Numbers: ARO-14724.2-GS Final Rpt.
  • Contract Numbers: DAAG29-78-C-0004
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Aug 15 1981 12:00AM