Study: Raindrops can wreak havoc on Earth

Jan. 18, 2007 at 10:18 AM
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PHOENIX, Jan. 18 (UPI) -- U.S. scientists say raindrops can wreak havoc on Earth, and although they do it on a microscopic scale, they have the force of a hammer.

The study was led by Arizona State University Assistant Professor Mark Schmeeckle and Vanderbilt University Professor David Furbish. They focused on the effect of raindrops hitting bare soil and discovered violent collisions occur when water hits bare soil.

The researchers conducted several experiments simulating raindrops hitting sand on flat surfaces and said their findings might have a big impact on soil erosion research, adding to the knowledge engineers use to devise systems to prevent hill and mountain erosion.

"In semi-arid and arid regions ... where there is not a lot of vegetation on hills, raindrops directly and dramatically affect soil as they hit," Schmeeckle said. "A lot of material transport from hill slopes will eventually make it into the river systems. This study will lead to a much better understanding of the processes of how soil is eroded and transported on hill slopes."

The findings appear in the current issue of the Journal of Geophysical Research.

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