Effects of Topography and Surface Soil Cover on Erosion for Mining Reclamation: The Experimental Spoil Heap at El Machorro Mine (Central Spain)

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Nicolau Ibarra, José Manuel
Hernando Rodríguez, Néstor
Sánchez Castillo, Lázaro
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Mining reclamation tries to reduce environmental impacts, including accelerated runoff, erosion and sediment load in the nearby fluvial networks and their ecosystems. This study compares the effects of topography and surface soil cover on erosion on man-made slopes coming from surface mining reclamation in Central Spain. Two topographic profiles, linear and concave, with two surface soil covers, subsoil and topsoil, were monitored for two hydrologic years. Sediment load, rill development and plant colonization from the four profiles were measured under field conditions. The results show that, in the case of this experiment, a thick and non-compacted topsoil cover on a linear slope yielded less sediment than carbonate colluvium or topsoil cover on a concave slope. This study also shows that vegetation establishment, which plays an important role in erosion control, depends on topography. Plant cover was more widespread and more homogeneous on linear profiles with topsoil cover. On concave slopes, plant establishment was severely limited on the steepest upper part and favoured in the bottom. This study suggests that management of topography and surface soil cover should be approached systematically, taking three outcomes into consideration: (i) topsoil can lead to a successful mining reclamation regardless of topography, (ii) created concave slopes can lead to a successful mining reclamation and (iii) topography determines the vegetation colonization pattern.
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