Impacts of wildfire on effective sediment particle size

implications for post-fire sediment budgets

Geoff Humphreys, William H. Blake, Ian G. Droppo, Peter J. Wallbrink, Stefan H Doerr, Richard A. Shakesby

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contribution

    10 Citations (Scopus)


    Recent work in an Australian catchment has shown that severe wildfires followed by rainstorm events lead to redistribution of topsoil and export of sediment to the local river network. Considering the affinity of nutrients and other contaminants for fine sediment, and the potential for considerable downstream impacts, a sound understanding of the fine-sediment delivery from burnt systems is required. However, past work has shown that fire can modify the particle size distribution of the soil through formation of robust sand-sized aggregates comprising fine clays and silts. Image analysis confirmed the presence of fire-modified soil aggregates in our study area. Analysis of aggregate form and fluvial behaviour showed that fire-modified aggregates are fused, dense and inorganic in nature with settling velocities of an order of magnitude faster than unburat soil aggregates or classic riverine flocs. This implies an increased potential for storage of nutrient-rich fine sediment within slope units, flood plains and river channels. The unusual behaviour of these composite particles should be considered in the construction of post-fire fine-sediment budgets.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationIAHS Publication 291
    EditorsDesmond E. Walling, Arthur J. Horowitz
    Place of PublicationWallingford, UK
    PublisherIAHS Press
    Number of pages8
    ISBN (Print)1901502872
    Publication statusPublished - 2005
    EventSediment Budgets 1 - Foz do Iguacu, Brazil
    Duration: 2 Apr 20059 Apr 2005


    ConferenceSediment Budgets 1
    CityFoz do Iguacu

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    Humphreys, G., Blake, W. H., Droppo, I. G., Wallbrink, P. J., Doerr, S. H., & Shakesby, R. A. (2005). Impacts of wildfire on effective sediment particle size: implications for post-fire sediment budgets. In D. E. Walling, & A. J. Horowitz (Eds.), IAHS Publication 291 (pp. 143-150). Wallingford, UK: IAHS Press.