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What Is Erosion and Sedimentation?

What Is Erosion and Sedimentation?

Erosion is the process that wears away earth. This can occur naturally by water, wind or ice. During the erosion process bits of soil are moved, most often by water, to a new location. The soil particles being moved are called sediment. If you have ever seen a stream or creek that is brown in color after a rain storm, you have witnessed this process. As the muddy water slows down, it deposits the sediment carried in the water in a new location. This occurs in slow pools within the stream and at the mouth of streams or rivers. When sediment accumulates at the mouth of a stream or river we call it a delta.

We most often think of erosion occurring along a riverbank, but water and wind can remove soil from other areas as they interact with the top layer of soil. Trees, grasses and other plants help to slow this process. As humans disturb the land for agriculture, development, or any other purpose, the erosion process is accelerated.

Accelerated erosion causes two issues for the environment and our resources. The first issue has to do with where the sediment ends up. Sediment in streams can greatly impact the life in that stream. A stream bottom should be freestone with the spaces between the stones used as habitat for small organisms and where fish lay their eggs. As sediment is deposited in these cracks fewer organisms can live in a stream.

Sediment can also build up in lakes. This decreases the depth of the lake sometimes impacting the fish living there.  It can also impact recreational activities such as boating. The second issue caused by accelerated erosion is the lack of soil in the areas where it has been washed away. Whether you are a farmer or a landowner just trying to have a nice lawn, topsoil is important. Most of Pike County has very rocky soils. The small amount of fertile topsoil present is very important to supporting plant life. If this topsoil is washed away it can take centuries to regenerate.

Keeping soil where it belongs is important. Everyone should look for ways to accomplish this.  Follow us on Facebook or Instagram for ideas and tips to limit erosion.