Authors: Lowry, JBC; Coulthard, TJ; Hancock, GR; Jones, DR


Cite As:
Lowry, JBC, Coulthard, TJ, Hancock, GR & Jones, DR 2011, 'Assessing soil erosion on a rehabilitated landform using the CAESAR landscape evolution model ©', in AB Fourie, M Tibbett & A Beersing (eds), Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference on Mine Closure, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 613-621,

Download citation as:   ris   bibtex   endnote   text   Zotero

The ability to predict the stability of post-mining landscapes through time scales ranging from decades to thousands of years is a critical element in the assessment of closure designs for uranium mines. Landscape Evolution Models (LEMs) can provide information on soil erosion rates at decadal or centennial temporal scales, over large spatial scales and evaluate the sensitivity of these processes to environmental changes. In this paper, the CAESAR LEM is tested for its ability to predict soil erosion from a series of 30 x 30 m experimental plots constructed on a trial rehabilitated landform at the Ranger Uranium Mine in the Northern Territory, Australia. Data inputs required by the model (particle size distribution and rainfall time series) were obtained from field measurements made during the 2009–10 wet season. A very high resolution (20cm) digital elevation model of each erosion plot was produced from a laser scan of the surface. The erosion rates predicted by the model were compared with time series field measurements of suspended sediment and bedload. This is the first time that predictions from an LEM have been assessed against field measurements at such high spatial and temporal resolution scales. Once the model had been calibrated for the specific site hydrological conditions, the predicted loads for both bedload and suspended sediment demonstrated excellent agreement with the field data. Erosion data collected through subsequent wet seasons will provide the opportunity to assess how well the model predicts the evolution of the surface erosion properties through time as the surface weathers and vegetation develops.

Bevan, K. and Kirkby, M.J. (1979) A physically based contributing area model of basin hydrology, Hydrological Science Bulletin, Vol. 24, pp. 43–69.
Bureau of Meteorology (2011) Climate statistics for Australian locations – Jabiru Airport, viewed 06/05/2011, .
Coulthard, T.J., Kirkby, M.J. and Macklin, M.G. (2000) Modelling geomorphic response to environmental change in an upland catchment, Hydrological Processes, Vol. 14, pp. 2031–2045.
Coulthard, T.J., Lewin, J. and Macklin, M.G. (2005) Modelling differential and complex catchment response to environmental change, Geomorphology, Vol. 69, pp. 224–241.
Coulthard, T.J., Macklin, M.G. and Kirkby, M.J. (2002) Simulating upland river catchment and alluvial fan evolution, Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, Vol. 27, pp. 269–288.
Cull, R., Hancock, G., Johnston, A., Martin, P., Marten, R., Murray, A.S., Pfitzner, J., Warner, R.F. and Wasson, R.J. (1992) Past, present and future sedimentation on the Magela plain and its catchment, in Modern sedimentation and late quaternary evolution of the Magela Plain, R.J. Wasson (editor), Supervising Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region Research Report 6, AGPS, Canberra, pp. 226–268.
Einstein, H.A. (1950) The bed-load function for sediment transport on open channel flows, Tech. Bull. No. 1026, USDA, Soil Conservation Service, 71 p.
Erskine, W.D. and Saynor, M.J. (2000) Assessment of the off-site geomorphic impacts of uranium mining on Magela Creek, Northern Territory, Australia, Supervising Scientist Report 156, Supervising Scientist, Darwin.
Evans, K.G. (2000) Methods for assessing mine site rehabilitation design for erosion impact, Australian Journal of Soil Research, Vol. 38(2), pp. 231–248.
Evans, K.G. and Loch, R.J. (1996) Using the RUSLE to identify factors controlling erosion of mine soils, Land Degradation and Development, Vol. 7, pp. 267–277.
Flanagan, D.C. and Livingston, S.J. (1995) Water Erosion Prediction Project (WEPP) version 95.7 User Summary, National Soil Erosion Research Laboratory Report 11, 131 p.
Hancock, G.R. (2005) Digital elevation model error and its effect on modelling soil erosion and catchment geomorphology Sediment Budgets II (Proceedings of symposium S1 held during the Seventh IAHS Scientific Assembly at Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil, April 2005), IAHS Publ. 292.
Hancock, G.R., Loughran, R.J., Evans, K.G. and Balog, R. (2008) Estimation of soil erosion using field and modelling approaches in an undisturbed Arnhem Land catchment, Northern Territory, Australia, Geographical Research, Vol. 46(3), pp. 333–349.
Hancock, G.R., Lowry, J.B.C., Coulthard, T.J., Evans, K.G. and Moliere, D.R. (2010) A catchment scale evaluation of the SIBERIA and CAESAR landscape evolution models, Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, Vol. 35,
pp. 863–875.
Jones, D.R., Humphrey, C., van Dam, R., Harford, A., Turner, K. and Bollhoefer, A. (2009) Integrated chemical, radiological and biological monitoring for an Australian uranium mine – a best practice case study, Proceedings International Mine Water Conference, 19–23 October, Pretoria, South Africa, ISBN 978-0-9802623-5-3,
pp. 95–104.
Laflen, J.M., Elliot, W.J., Simanton, J.R., Holzhey, C.S. and Kohl, K.D. (1991) WEPP soil erodibility experiments for rangeland and cropland soils, Journal of Soil and Water Conservation Vol. 46(1), pp. 39–34.
Loch, R.J., Connolly, R.D. and Littleboy, M. (2000) Using rainfall simulation to guide planning and management of rehabilitated areas: Part 2, Computer simulations using parameters from rainfall simulation, Land Degradation and Development, Vol. 11(3), pp. 241–255.
Lowry, J.B.C., Evans, K.G., Coulthard, T.J., Hancock, G.R. and Moliere, D.R. (2009) Assessing the impact of extreme rainfall events on the geomorphic stability of a conceptual rehabilitated landform in the Northern Territory of Australia, in Mine Closure 2009. Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference on Mine Closure,
A. Fourie, M. Tibbett (eds), 9–11 September 2009, Perth, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, pp. 203–212.
Onstad, C.A. and Foster, G.R. (1975) Erosion modelling on a watershed, Transactions of the American Society of Agricultural Engineers, Vol. 26, pp. 1102–1104.
Renard, K.G., Laflen, J.M., Foster, G.R. and McCool, D.K. (1994) The revised universal soil loss equation, in Soil Erosion Research Methods, R. Lal (ed.) Soil and Water Conservation Society, Ankeny, 2nd edition,
pp. 105–124.
Riley, S.M. (1994) Approaches to estimating the erosional stability of the Nabarlek tailings pit cover, Proceedings of the AusIMM Annual Conference, Darwin 5–9 August 1994, AusIMM, Melbourne, pp. 415–421.
Van De Wiel, M.J., Coulthard, T.J., Macklin, M.G. and Lewin, J. (2007) Embedding reach-scale fluvial dynamics within the CAESAR cellular automaton landscape evolution model, Geomorphology, Vol. 90 (3–4),
pp. 283–301.
Wilcock, P.R. and Crowe, J. (2003) Surface-based transport model for mixed size sediment, Journal of Hydraulic Engineering, Vol. 129(2), pp. 120–128.
Willgoose, G.R., Bras, R.L. and Rodriguez-Iturbe, I. (1989) A physically based channel network and catchment evolution model, TR 322, Ralph M. Parsons Laboratory, Department of Civil Engineering, MIT, Boston, USA, 464 p.
Wischmeier, W.H. and Smith, D.D. (1978) Predicting rainfall erosion losses – a guide to conservation planning, Agriculture Handbook No. 537.2, US Department of Agriculture, 85 p.

© Copyright 2021, Australian Centre for Geomechanics (ACG), The University of Western Australia. All rights reserved.
Please direct any queries or error reports to