Cutting Edge > Geomorphology > Visualizations > Soil Erosion

Soil Erosion

Compiled by Mark Francek (more info) at Carleton College (more info) (SERC) and Central Michigan University (more info)

Find animations of soil erosion. There are also Depression Era audio files recounting the Dust Bowl and images of soils.

Click here to browse the complete set of Visualization Collections.



Soil Erosion Animations

African Dust Crossing the Atlantic, NASA (more info) This Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer (TOMS) animated GIF shows a cloud of Saharan dust caught up in the belt of northeast trade winds and crossing the Atlantic. The dust eventually rained down upon the Caribbean carrying with it minerals, microbes, fungi, and bacteria.

Bank Erosion, University of Wisconsin (more info) Find a spectacular QuickTime movie of a house sliding into the ocean as a result of bank erosion. The movie can be paused and rewound to emphasize important points.

Dust Bowl Wind Storm, Kansas State University (more info) This MPEG movie uses historic 1930's film footage to depict the dust storms that impacted the High Plains of the United States. Heightened soil erosion was caused by a combination of natural climatic fluctuations and human disturbance. Barren, windswept fields, buried farmhouses, and rolling tumbleweed attest to the devastation. The movie can be paused and rewound to emphasize important points.

Haiti-The Eroding Nation, Sun-Sentinal (more info) This Flash animated slide show traces the causes and impacts of soil erosion. When a forested landscape is deforested, surface runoff no longer recharges aquifers. Instead, runoff is confined to the surface where it erodes the soil causing reduced soil fertility, mudslides, and reduced water quality. To access the slide show click on "The Problem" on the right hand side of the frame and then "About Haiti's Erosion." Be sure to spend time to explore other links at the site. This is a rich, comprehensive resource for documenting how soil erosion contributes to Haiti's status as the Hemisphere's poorest nation.

Rainsplash Erosion, Arizona State University (more info) This animated GIF slows frames to 1/240th of a second to capture rainsplash impact of a single raindrop on dry sand. Rainsplash erosion is a precursor to soil erosion by disaggregating soil, clearing the way for transport by water, wind, or ice. The entire video sequence, which is only 0.1 seconds in real time, lasts about five seconds and automatically repeats itself.

Dune Sand Saltation, Kansas State University (more info) This MPG movie shows wind tunnel sediments moving through creep, saltation, and suspension. The movie would also be useful in the discussion of fluvial and aeolian transport mechanisms. The movie can be paused and rewound to emphasize important points.

Close up of Dune Sand Saltation, Kansas State University (more info) This QuickTime movie illustrates stream bed load transport. The process of saltation is especially apparent. Note how the collision of one grain will set another into motion. Because the animation can be paused and rewound, it is easy to view saltation.

The Plow that Broke the Plains, Kansas State University (more info) This WMV is a Thirties era U.S. government film called "The Plow that Broke the Plains" that chronicles boom and bust agriculture on the High Plains. The first seventeen minutes of the film are devoted to the establishment of mechanized agriculture and how it contributed to crop productivity gains. The final ten minutes of the film recount bleak dust bowl conditions, including out migration by displaced farmers.


Web Sites for Hearing Audio Files on Soil Erosion

Dust Bowl Tale 1, Kansas State University (more info) A 1940 interview with Mrs. Flora Robertson talking about dust storms in Oklahoma. The MP3 audio format interview concludes with an original poem, "I came to Oklahoma before it was a state."


Dust Bowl Tale 2, Kansas State University (more info) A 1940 interview with Charlie Spurlock, Willie Judd, and Tom Johnson recounting High Plains dust storms.


Dust Bowl Tale 3, Kansas State University (more info) A 1940 interview with Charlie Spurlock, Willie Judd, and Tom Johnson recounting High Plains dust storms.


Web Sites for Viewing Images of Soil Erosion

NRCS Photo Gallery (more info) This site contains natural resource and conservation related photos from across the USA. Search by category and state from thousands of .JPEG and .TIFF images. Search categories include buffers, erosion, dams, floods, no-till, terraces, trees, wetlands, and much more.


Twelve Soil Orders, University of Idaho (more info) A graphically rich site with accompanying descriptions that illustrate the distribution and properties, of the twelve soil orders. This is a good source for accessing imagery on soil profiles and associated land use.


State Soils, USDA ( This site may be offline. ) The profile of every U.S. state soil is pictured in .PDF documents including descriptions and geographic distribution.


Photohistory Of Agriculture, USDA A fascinating look at past human and physical environments can be viewed at the USDA's agricultural photo history site. Most of the photographs on display in this section were taken between 1937 and 1943 with some of the photos dating back to the 1800s. Thousands of black and white photos exist for agriculture, business, community, domestic scenes, education, government, landscapes, machinery, portraiture, and transportation. The "Portraiture" section is especially revealing, capturing the human toll of the Dust Bowl era.


Erosion Cartoons, Cartoon Stock (more info) Six clever comics highlighting the lighter side of soil erosion.



« Chemical Weathering       Physical Weathering »