Understanding the factors influencing rill erosion on roadcuts in the south eastern region of South Africa
- School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Discipline of Geography, University of KwaZulu-Natal, P/Bag X01, Scottsville, Pietermaritzburg 3209, South Africa
Abstract. Erosion on roadcuts is a concern due to the potential of causing environmental degradation, which has significant economic costs. It is therefore critical to understand the relationship between roadcut characteristics and soil erosion for designing roadcuts that are less vulnerable to erosion and to help road rehabilitation works. This study investigated the characteristics (i.e. gradient, length, percentage of vegetation cover and soil texture) of degraded (i.e. with rills) and non-degraded roadcuts (i.e. without rills) and explored the relationship of the roadcut characteristics with the dimensions (widths and depths) of the rills. Degraded roadcuts were steep (52.21°), long (10.70 m) and had a low percentage of vegetation cover (24.12) when compared to non-degraded roadcuts which had a gradient of 28.24°, length of 6.38 m and 91.7% of vegetation cover. Moreover, the gradient and percentage of vegetation cover of the roadcut significantly determine the rill dimensions. The widths and depths of the rills increase with the increase in slope gradient and decrease with an increase in percentage of vegetation cover. Moreover, the widths and depths of the rills decreased downslope of the roadcuts. Based on these results, re-vegetation of roadcuts as well as construction of gentle gradients could minimise rill erosion and hence the negative on-site and off-site effects.