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Rhodes University (2014)

Sediment linkages in a small catchment in the Mount Fletcher southern Drakensberg region, South Africa

Mzobe, Pearl Nonjabulo

Titre : Sediment linkages in a small catchment in the Mount Fletcher southern Drakensberg region, South Africa

Auteur : Mzobe, Pearl Nonjabulo

Université de soutenance : Rhodes University

Grade : Master 2014

Résumé
Soil erosion is a persistent problem that requires continued control efforts as agricultural land loses productivity and communities dependent on the land become increasingly vulnerable to decreased food security. The negative effects of soil erosion in Khamopele River catchment, in the Mount Fletcher southern Drakensberg region of South Africa, are manifest in extensive gullying and wetland loss. Soil erosion has resulted in siltation in a recently constructed dam and the alteration of aquatic habitats. This research was undertaken to identify the sources of eroded sediment in the small upper catchments of the Mzimvubu River catchment to inform broader catchment management strategies. The scale of erosion was quantified using field surveys of gully extent and form. Environmental magnetic tracing techniques were used to determine the sources of eroded sediment in Khamopele River and upper Tina River catchments. The radionuclide ¹³⁷Cs was used to determine soil loss over a 55 year period in Khamopele River catchment. The Landscape Connectivity framework was used to describe the sediment source, pathway and sink interactions at sample area level. Results indicated that historical and contemporary land management practices such as uncontrolled grazing, grassland burning and furrows promoted soil erosion in the catchment. Soil erosion was most pronounced in the Taung sample area where there was extensive gullying, tunnelling and subsurface erosion. Environmental magnetic tracing results indicated that there were clear differences in source areas. Despite its prevalence in the area, gully erosion was not shown to be a major source of sediment to downstream sinks. Topsoil and hillslope derived sediment were shown to be mobile in the catchment, suggesting that sheet erosion processes were dominant in the catchment. Radionuclide tracing studies showed that at least 20 cm of soil had been eroded from the Khamopele River catchment surface since 1956. This research has shown that it is possible to distinguish source areas of erosion in the catchment by matching catchment mineral magnetic signatures to those in sink areas. This means that rehabilitation projects can use resources efficiently as the areas needing the most attention can be identified.

Mots Clés : Soil erosion — South Africa — Mount Fletcher — Soil conservation — Soil degradation — Food security —Wetland management — Watersheds

Présentation (SEALS)

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Page publiée le 14 décembre 2015, mise à jour le 31 mars 2020