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Model of Soil and Sediment Dynamics


Development of a Model of Soil and Sediment Redistribution Using of Nuclear-Physical Methods of Analysis

Tech Area / Field

  • AGR-DIG/Diagnostics/Agriculture
  • ENV-MIN/Monitoring and Instrumentation/Environment
  • ENV-MRA/Modelling and Risk Assessment/Environment

3 Approved without Funding

Registration date

Leading Institute
Moscow State University / Department of Geography, Russia, Moscow

Supporting institutes

  • Institute of Physical-Technical Problems, Russia, Moscow reg., Dubna


  • University of Exeter, UK, Exeter\nADAS, UK, Wolverhampton\nColorado State University, USA, CO, Fort Collins\nUniversity of Northern British Columbia, Canada, BC, Prince George\nUnited States Department of Agriculture / Southwest Watershed Research Center, USA, AZ, Tucson\nUniversity of Manitoba / Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences, Canada, MB, Winnipeg

Project summary

It can be suggested that important scientific problem under present state of our knowledge is to elucidate in more details structure and interactions of fluvial processes in upper parts of drainage network and their relationships with elemental composition of sediment-bound anthropogenic pollutants, especially heavy metals (HM). Development of reasonable approaches to resolve this problem is needed both for a progress of the fundamental Earth sciences and for applied purposes. The latter can gain significant advantage by obtaining a basis for design of methods to reasonably and quantitatively predict migration of sediment and associated pollutants in industrially developed regions.

Spatiotemporal interactions of fluvial sediment erosion, transport and deposition in drainage basins of different order (spatial scale) are not yet completely understood. One of the main reasons for this gap in our knowledge is a lack of sufficiently reliable techniques for quantitative assessment of these processes. At the same time, increasing human impact on soil resources also requires development of new approaches for quantitative evaluation, modeling and forecast of sediment redistribution processes and associated pollutant migration in agricultural landscapes.

Main objective of the proposed project is to develop a model of sediment and sediment-bound pollutant redistribution dynamics in drainage basins of different order (spatial scale) based on application of techniques available in modern nuclear physics for rapid analysis of elemental composition of soils and sediments.

During the project realization it is planned to design a complex of equipment and methodic for analysis of elemental composition of soils and sediments and determination of depth distribution of gamma-emitting radionuclides in studied geological sections. Design of equipment will involve construction of the prototypes of a gamma-scanner and a roentgen-fluorescent analyzer both based on semiconductor detectors. Such equipment will make it possible to carry out necessary analysis real-time directly in the field without having to transport large amount of soil and sediment samples into the laboratory. After laboratory tests of the equipment prototypes and elaboration of measurement methods it is planned to carry out field tests at the selected typical drainage basin of the Russian Plain.

Combination of theoretical investigations and field experiments will make it possible to resolve fundamental problems of fluvial geomorphology, as well as to determine new regularities of fluvial processes at the specific case study drainage basin. Quantitatively based approach for rapid determination of sources and pathways of pollutants migration in drainage basins and evaluation of their delivery from a basin outlet into lower parts of the drainage network will be designed. It is planned to illustrate the potential of application of the designed approaches to determine main sources of water pollution in perennial watercourses and other water bodies in cases of the emergency situations on industrial objects, as well as to develop monitoring programs for substantiating schemes of sustainable land use of territories adjacent to such potentially dangerous industrial objects.

Main outcome of the project realization will be the development of conceptual model of a drainage basin functioning as a fluvial geomorphic system aimed to predict transformations of spatial patterns of soil and sediment pollution and transport of various pollutants into the drainage network. That model will also include evaluations of potential pollutant uptake into biological food chains (vegetation – animals – human).

Modeling approaches, equipment and measurement techniques developed during the project realization can be used by environment conservation and hydrometeorological authorities, agricultural industry, specialists of various branches of the Earth sciences in order to obtain reliable predictions and ensure efficient decision-making in cases of emergency situations. In addition, in case of successful testing of the designed equipment and techniques, those can be applied not only within Russia, but also in other countries.


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