• Distinguishing dune environments based on topsoil characteristics: a case study on the Sefton Coast

      Millington, Jennifer A.; Booth, Colin A.; Fullen, Michael A.; Trueman, Ian C.; Worsley, Annie T. (Coastal Defence: Sefton MBC Technical Services Department, 2010)
      It is important to understand the effects of coastal change on the migration of coastal dune environments and their associated imprint on soil processes, for both environmental and ecological motives. Geographical Information Systems (GIS) have been applied to investigate soil spatial patterns and their controlling influences on the Sefton dunes. To verify relationships between plant communities and soil types, groundtruthing of existing vegetation maps has been achieved through analysis of representative, geo-referenced, topsoil (0-5 cm) samples (n = 115), fromclassified dune environments (n = 10), for the purpose of distinguishing dune environments from their soil characteristics. Samples were analysed for pH, organic matter content, particle size, total soil organic carbon and total soil nitrogen, geochemical composition and magnetic susceptibility. Significant differences (p <0.05) are apparent for the suite of soil characteristics collated, indicating individual dune environments are associated with specific soil properties. Therefore, identification and mapping of dune soil habitats can provide baseline information for conservation management.
    • Effects of Palm-mat Geotextiles on the Conservation of Loamy Sand Soils in East Shropshire, UK

      Bhattacharyya, Ranjan; Davies, Kathleen; Fullen, Michael A.; Booth, Colin A. (2008)
      Some 30% of world arable land has become unproductive, largely due to soil erosion. Considerable efforts have been devoted to studying and controlling water erosion. However, there remains the need for efficient, environmentallyfriendly and economically-viable options. An innovative approach has used geotextiles constructed from Borassus aethiopum (Black Rhun Palm of West Africa) leaves to decrease soil erosion. The effectiveness of employing palmmats to reduce soil erosion have been investigated by measuring runoff, soil loss and soil splash on humid temperate soils. Twelve experimental soil plots (each measuring 1.0 x 1.0 m) were established at Hilton, east Shropshire, UK, to study the effects of geotextiles on splash erosion (six plots completely covered with Borassus mats and six non-protected bare soil plots). Soil splash was measured (10/06/02-09/02/04; total precipitation = 1038 mm) by collecting splashed particles in a centrally positioned trap in each plot. An additional field study (25/03/02-10/05/04; total precipitation = 1320 mm) of eight experimental runoff plots (10 x 1 m on a 15o slope) were used at the same site, with duplicate treatments: (i) bare soil; (ii) grassed, (iii) bare soil with 1 m palm-mat buffer zones at the lower end of the plots and (iv) completely covered with palm-mats. Runoff volume and sediment yield were measured after each substantial storm. Results indicate that total splash erosion in bare plots was 34.2 g m-2 and mean splash height was 20.5 cm. The use of Borassus mats on bare soil significantly (P<0.05) reduced soil splash height by ~31% and splash erosion by ~50%. Total runoff from bare plots was 3.58 L m-2 and total sediment yield was 8.58 g m-2. Thus, application of geotextiles as 1 m protective buffer strips on bare soil reduced runoff by ~36% and soil erosion by ~57%. Although total soil loss from the completely covered geotextile plots was ~16% less than the buffer zone plots, total runoff volume from the completely covered plots was ~94% more than the buffer zone plots. Thus, palm-mat (buffer strips) cover on vulnerable segments of the landscape is highly effective for soil and water conservation on temperate loamy sand soils.
    • Remediation of oil spills using zeolites

      Fullen, Michael A.; Kelay, Asha; Williams, Craig D. (2011)
      Current research is testing the hypothesis that zeolites can efficiently and cost effectively adsorb oil spills. To date, this aspect of zeolites science has received little attention. A series of five Master of Science (M.Sc.) Projects at the University of Wolverhampton have shown that the zeolite clinoptilolite can effectively adsorb oil. Various sand-clinoptilolite mixes were tested in replicated laboratory analyses in terms of their ability to adsorb engine oil. Adsorption increased with clinoptilolite amount. The relationship between percentage clinoptilolite and oil adsorption was asymptotic. Thus, on a cost-effective basis, a 20% clinoptilolite: 80% sand mix seems the most costeffective mix. However, a particularly exciting finding was that it was possible to burn the oil-sand-zeolite mix and reuse the ignited mix for further oil adsorption. Experiments are ongoing, but to date the ignition and adsorption cycle has been repeated, on a replicated basis, seven times. Still, the ignited mix adsorbs significantly more oil than the sand control. Initial results suggest that the temperature of ignition is critical, as high temperatures can destroy the crystal and micro-pore structure of zeolites. Thus, low temperature ignition (~400oC) seems to allow the retention of structural integrity. Similar results were obtained using the zeolite chabazite and experiments are in progress on phillipsite, which is the third major zeolite mineral. If the hypotheses can be proven, there are potentially immense benefits. Sand-zeolite mixtures could be used to effectively adsorb terrestrial oil spills (i.e. at oil refinery plants, road accidents, beach spills from oil tankers and spills at petrol stations) and thus remediate oil-contaminated soils. The contaminated mix could be ignited and, given the appropriate infrastructure, the energy emission of combustion could be used as a source for electrical power. Then, the ignited mix could be reused in subsequent oil spills. This offers enormous potential for an environmentally-friendly sustainable ‘green’ technology. It would also represent intelligent use of zeolite resources. On a global scale, including Europe, clinoptilolite is the most common and inexpensive zeolite resource.
    • Soil conservation using palm-mat geotextiles on loamy sand soils in the United Kingdom

      Bhattacharyya, Ranjan; Davies, Kathleen; Fullen, Michael A.; Booth, Colin A. (University of Wolverhampton in association with International Soil Conservation Organization, 2008)
      Geotextile-mats constructed from Borassus aethiopum (Borassus Palm) and Mauritia flexuosa (Buriti Palm) leaves have the potential to decrease soil erosion. In the U.K., field experiments are being conducted on the effectiveness of palm-mats to reduce soil erosion at Hilton, east Shropshire. Twelve plots (each plot measuring 1.0 x 1.0 m; 6 plots were completely covered with Borassus mats, and the other 6 plots were bare) were established to study the effects of geotextile-mats on splash erosion. Eight runoff plots (10 x 1 m on a 15o slope) were used, with duplicate treatments: (i) bare soil; (ii) grassed, (iii) bare soil with 1 m Borassus-mat buffer zones and (iv) completely covered with Borassus mats. Runoff volume and sediment yield were measured after each substantial storm from 25/03/02-10/05/04 (total precipitation = 1320 mm). Results indicate that palm-mats on bare soil significantly reduced total soil splash erosion by ~50% compared with bare soil (34.2 g m-2; during 10/06/02-09/02/04, total precipitation = 1038 mm). Total runoff from bare plots was 3.58 litres m-2 and total sediment yield was 8.58 g m-2. Borassus mats as buffer strips reduced runoff by ~36% and soil erosion by ~57%. Total soil loss from the completely covered plots was only ~16% less than the buffer zone plots. To confirm the results, another set of runoff experiments are in progress at Hilton, with one additional treatment (bare soil with 1 m Buriti-mat buffer zones) compared with the earlier experiment. Results (08/01/07-24/08/07; total precipitation = 702 mm) indicate that total runoff from bare plots was 21.2 litres m-2 and total sediment yield was 2302 g m-2. Borassus and Buriti mats as 1 m buffer strips reduced runoff by ~86 and 61%, respectively, and soil erosion by ~93 and 98%, respectively. Buffer strips of Borassus mats are as effective as complete cover of the same mats and are more effective in reducing runoff water than the buffer strips of Buriti mats. Combined results from both sets of runoff experiments (total precipitation = 2022 mm) suggest that application of Borassus mats as 1 m protective buffer strips on bare soil reduced runoff by ~77% and soil erosion by ~93%. Thus, Borassus-mat (buffer strips) cover on vulnerable segments of the soilscape is highly effective for soil and water conservation on temperate loamy sand soils.
    • Utilization of Palm-mat Geotextiles to Conserve Agricultural Soils.

      Bhattacharyya, Ranjan; Davies, Kathleen; Fullen, Michael A.; Booth, Colin A. (International Erosion Control Association (IECA), 2009)
      Previously, most studies on the effectiveness of geotextiles on soil erosion rates and processes were conducted in laboratory experiments for <1 h. Hence, at Hilton (52o33' N, 2o19' W), East Shropshire, UK, we investigated the effectiveness of employing palm-mat geotextiles (Borassus and Buriti mats) to reduce rainsplash erosion, runoff and soil loss under field conditions. This study is a component of the European Union-funded BORASSUS Project. The effects of Borassus mats on rainsplash erosion were studied for ~2 years (2002-2004), and re-established in January 2007 on a 0o slope. There were 12 experimental plots (six plots completely-covered with mats and six bare plots; each measuring 1.0 x 1.0 m). Runoff-plot studies were also conducted on the loamy sand soil at Hilton for 2 years (2002-2004) with duplicate treatments: (i) bare soil; (ii) grassed, (iii) bare soil with 1 m Borassus-mat buffer zones at the lower end of the plots and (iv) completely-covered with Borassus-mats. Each plot was 10 x 1 m on a 15o (26.6%) slope. To confirm the results, another set of experiments have been in progress at Hilton since January 2007, with one additional treatment (bare soil with 1 m Buriti-mat buffer zones) compared with the earlier experiment. Runoff and soil erosion were collected from each plot in a concrete gutter, leading to a 0.02 m3 (20 liters) capacity receptacle placed inside a 0.14 m3 (140 liters) capacity container. Results (06/10/02-02/09/04; total precipitation = 1038.3 mm) showed Borassus mats on bare soil reduced total rainsplash erosion by ~50% compared with bare plots (9.64 kg m-2; 1.97 lb ft-2). The use of Borassus mats on bare soil (during 01/22/07-01/21/08; total precipitation = 919.2 mm) also reduced soil splash erosion by ~90%. During 03/25/02-05/10/04 (total precipitation = 1319.8 mm) complete cover of Borassus mats on bare soil reduced total runoff by ~19% and soil erosion by ~64%. Furthermore, Borassus mats as 1 m buffer strips on bare soil reduced runoff by ~36% and soil erosion by ~57%. During 01/08/07-01/14/08 (total precipitation = 923.4 mm), plots with Borassus and Buriti mats as buffer strips on bare soil reduced sediment yield by ~93 and 98%, respectively, and runoff by ~83 and 63%, respectively. Buffer strips of Borassus mats were also as effective as complete cover of the same mats. Thus, utilization of palm-mat geotextiles as buffer strips on bare plots (area coverage ~10%) is highly effective for soil and water conservation.