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Long Term Soil Erosion and Gullying in North-Mississippi, USA: Interaction between Human Impact and Landscape

Research Project Information

Project coordination:
Markus Dotterweich
Jared David May

Student staff:
Anja Sänger
Sonja Keller

01.2006 until 12.2007

German Research Foundation (DFG-Projekt DO 1026 2/2)
University of Koblenz-Landau


Knowledge on long term processes of interactions between land use and soil erosion in the south-east United States is still rather limited. Also there are no detailed data about land use changes and dynamics of gullying at a high spatial and time resolution.
Aim of this interdisciplinary project is to reconstruct and model the changing and dynamic of water and sediment fluxes from an Indian used landscape 5000 years ago until today focusing on soil erosion and gully development in the state of North-Mississippi. The results help us to understand past and future land use changes and their effects and responses to man and environment.
Following tasks are planned:

  • GPS surveying of eroded sites, gullies, historical and recent land use features and hydrology feature
  • identifying and analysing soils and sediment layers in excavations and boreholes
  • sampling of soil, artefact and organic material for dating (radiocarbon, IRSL, artificial material, dendroecology)
  • study of historical documents, historical data, archaeological excavations and aerial picture
  • chemical and physical soil analysis (pH, texture, heavy metals, isotopes)
  • micromorphology and pollen analysis
  • interviews with recent land users and owners
  • reconstruction former surfaces and calculating long-term soil loss and water balances
  • modelling of past and future land use and soil erosion scenarios

This research is a part of research programmes on soil degradation at field and small catchment scale, environmental geography, geoarchaeology, prehistoric and historic archaeology and Holocene landscape development.

  • USDA ARS Sedimentation Laboratory in Oxford, Mississippi, USA
  • Cobb Institute of Archaeology in Starkville, USA
  • University of Oxford, Mississippi, USA
  • Biological and Physical Sciences, Delta State University, Cleveland, Mississippi, USA
  • Department of Anthropology and Sociology, Hattiesburg Mississippi, USA
  • Department of Archives and History, Greenville Mississippi, USA
  • Mississippi Mineral Resource Institute, University of Mississippi, USA
  • Department of Geography, University of Liverpool, UK


  • Dotterweich, M. , May, J.D. (2008): Bodendegradation im Südosten der USA Folgen der indianischen und europäischen Landnutzung. Geographie und Schule 175: 14-21.
  • Dotterweich, M., May, J.D. (2007): Prehistoric and modern impactson gully formation on the Loess Hills of Northern Mississippi. In: Casalí, J., Giménez, R. [Eds.], IV International Symposium on Gully Erosion, pp. 42-43. Universidad Púplica de Navarra, Pamplona.
  • May, J.D., Dotterweich, M. , Swann, C., Römkens, M. (2008): Using soils as archives - an example of prehistoric and modern impacts on erosion and gully formation during the Holocene in northern Mississippi. Geological Society of America, Southeastern Section - 57th Annual Meeting, 10 - 11 April 2008 in Charlotte, NC, USA. Abstracts with Programs , Vol. 40, No. 4, p. 6. URL: < http://gsa.confex.com/gsa/2008SE/finalprogram/abstract_136773.htm >.


© Markus Dotterweich, zuetzt aktualisiert am 5 Januar, 2012 16:29