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Soil Erosion and Deposition Rate Inside an Artificial Reservoir in Central Italy: Bathymetry versus RUSLE and Morphometry

  • Authors: Bufalini M.; Materazzi M.; Martinello C.; Rotigliano E.; Pambianchi G.; Tromboni M.; Paniccia M.
  • Publication year: 2022
  • Type: Articolo in rivista
  • OA Link:


This study, using different direct and indirect methodologies, evaluated the sedimentation rate in an artificial reservoir in central Italy. This reservoir is regionally representative and was built in the 1960s for hydroelectric purposes; it has experienced a strong decrease in trap efficiency and a loss of over 70% of the stored water volume. Direct measurements of the lake bottom bathymetry, carried out in 2006 and 2015, and 3D reconstructions performed in a GIS environment, made it possible to calculate the volume of filling material and to verify an increasing trend in the sedimentation rate since 2006. The sample reservoir denudation rate was compared with that obtained using the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation method to calibrate the fundamental and critical factors of the method itself, and verify the contribution of a hydrological “direct” (through new channels or gullies) or “diffuse” (overland flow) connectivity. Furthermore, the comparison with the results obtained from past studies on ten other artificial regional reservoirs, performed with morphometric analysis, demonstrated a good relationship between soil erosion rate, stream frequency, and contributing area size. The study highlighted how a correct estimate of soil erosion and/or solid transport rates within a hydrographic basin is fundamental for the assessment of the trap efficiency of a reservoir, in a period in which the availability of water resources is becoming more and more vital.