The Impact of Roughness Elements on Reducing the Shear Stress Acting on Soil Particles


Anita Thompson, Bruce Wilson

January 2002

Report no. MnDOT 2002-22


Erosion control

This report presents the results from a study on shear stress partitioning for vegetation. The project involved partitioning the shear stress from overland flow into one component that acts on the vegetation (form shear) and the remainder that acts on the intervening soil particles (particle shear). Particle shear is important for predicting soil erosion. The study used idealized shapes to represent vegetal elements. Researchers designed and constructed a unique laboratory hydraulic flume, which they used in conjunction with hot-film anemometry to measure particle shear. They also designed and constructed instrumentation to measure the form shear on individual rigid vegetal elements, taking detailed spatial and temporal shear stress measurements for three element densities. Form shear was measured on each element within the test array. The study investigated a total of 16 test scenarios. Particle shear accounted for 13 to 89 percent of the total shear. Shear partitioning theories developed for wind erosion adequately represent the observed data and can be used to determine an appropriate vegetation density for a threshold particle shear. Keywords-vegetation, overland flow, erosion, shear stress partition, hot-film anemometry

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