Surface stone cover on desert hillslopes; parameterizing characteristics relevant to infiltration and surface runoff

D. L. Dunkerley

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24 Citations (Scopus)


Surface stones are a common feature of desert hillslopes. They influence slope processes ranging from the interception and partitioning of rainwater to the dislodgement and transport of regolith particles. The aspects of a stone mantle which relate to these various influences are diverse, and include surface cover fraction, dimensions of the infiltration annulus, and geometric and packing effects. Analyses of the characteristics of stone cover at two study sites were made using photographic methods and are used to evaluate different means of reporting mean stone sizes. It is found that mean diameter based on weight, as conventionally employed in sieve analysis, is insensitive to important stone cover characteristics and may be influenced greatly by uncommon, large stones. Similarly, mean diameters based on count become inappropriate if large numbers of small stones dominate the calculated mean, concealing other site‐to‐site differences in stone cover. As a more appropriate parameterization of stone geometry, the use of mean diameters weighted by stone surface area and perimeter length are proposed. These weighting factors have the advantage that they relate closely to stone characteristics relevant to slope hydrology and erosion processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207-218
Number of pages12
JournalEarth Surface Processes and Landforms
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1995


  • grain size
  • infiltration
  • mean diameter
  • stone mantle

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