Erosion: On the Move


STUDENTS: Module 4: Forces in the Environment

Erosion icon. Erosion: On the Move Investigates the formation of soil as it reviews the work of running water, waves, wind and ice.


The loss of soil/land affects their lives in many ways:Photo: Sign reading: Warning Hazardous beach Erosion"
• loss of productive land to grow food, timber, fiber for clothing.
• runoff into water bodies degrading water quality for fishing and swimming.
• loss of coastal land as habitat and for recreation.
• loss of a future resource.
Soil is formed by the weathering of rocks over long periods of time. Weathering is the mechanical (physical disintegration) and chemical (decomposition) break-up of rocks. Soil is a mixture of tiny particles of inorganic minerals and rocks, decaying organic matter, water, and air.Figure 1: Soil Horizon

While soil is technically a renewable resource, the average rate of erosion throughout the world greatly exceeds the rate at which soil is being formed. Erosion is caused by air and water moving weathered material. After the material is removed from a location, it is deposited when the air and water lose their carrying power.
So what can be done about erosion? There are many conservation techniques used by resource managers and landowners to combat erosion:
  • Conservation tillage farming techniques - instead of plowing and leaving the soil exposed, the soil is disturbed as little as possible (ex. the no-till method plants seeds and adds fertilizers and weed killers at the same time with almost no disturbance of the soil).
  • Stream bank restoration – ex. stabilizing the stream slope with terraced banks and revegetating the banks to hold the soil in place.
  • Revegetation of coastal areas – planting marsh grasses on areas of the coast that have been damaged by waves.
  • Best Management Practices (BMPs) for new residential and commercial Photo:  Sediment fencesdevelopments – using sediment fences, bales of hay or grassed-swales to collect any sediment that would runoff from a construction site into local water bodies.
  • Local sediment ordinances that developers must follow to eliminate sediment runoff – developers must implement prescribed BMPs such as the ones stated above.
  • Join the NRCS’s Earth Team, a student volunteer program.
The importance of soil in our everyday lives is generally not recognized by people. Because it takes so long for soil to form, humans must find ways to conserve soil. Students can play a role by being “soil-aware” and getting involved in their local areas.
Photo: Eroded beach property.
fuel
heat
oxygen
fire triangle
radiation
convection
conduction
temperature
humidity
precipitation
burn
prescribed burn
aspect
slope
regeneration

Photo: More coastal erosion.
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