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Gullies are significant contributors of sediment to streams in the southeastern USA. This study investigated gully erosion in the clay-rich soils of east Tennessee under a humid subtropical climate. The aims of this study were to (1) estimate long-term erosion rates for different gully geomorphic settings, (2) compare patterns of erosion for the different settings, and (3) model the response of gully erosion to freeze-thaw events. Erosion was measured weekly from June 2012 to August 2018 using 105 erosion pins distributed in gully channels, interfluves, and sidewalls. Erosion rates were estimated from average slopes of lines of best fit of pin lengths versus time. Maximum and minimum temperature was calculated daily using an on-site weather station and freeze-thaw events were identified. Gully erosion was modeled using antecedent freeze-thaw activity for the three geomorphic settings. Long-term erosion rates in channels, interfluves, and sidewalls were 2.5 mm/year, 20 mm/year, and 21 mm/year, respectively; however, week-by-week erosion was statistically different between the three settings, indicating different erosive drivers. Models of erosion with lagged freeze-thaw variables explained up to 34.8% of the variability in erosion variables; sidewall erosion was most highly related to freeze-thaw activity. Freeze-thaw in prior weeks was an important variable in all erosion models.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.