Controls on the spatial distribution of natural pipe outlets in heavily degraded blanket peat

T. H. Regensburg, P. J. Chapman, M. G. Pilkington, D. M. Chandler, M. G. Evans, J. Holden

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Natural soil pipes are recognised as a common geomorphological feature in many peatlands, and they can discharge large quantities of water and sediment. However, little is known about their morphological characteristics in heavily degraded peat systems. This paper presents a survey of pipe outlets in which the frequency and extent of natural soil pipes are measured across a heavily gullied blanket peat catchment in the Peak District of northern England. Over a stream length of 7.71 km we determined the occurrence and size of 346 pipe outlets, and found a mean frequency of 22.8 km−1 gully bank. Topographic position was an important control on the size and depth of pipe outlets. Aspect had a large influence on pipe outlet frequency, with southwest and west- facing gully banks hosting more than 43% of identified pipe outlets. Pipe outlets on streambanks with signs of headward retreat were significantly larger and closer to the peat surface compared to pipe outlets that issued onto uniform streambank edges. We suggest that larger pipe frequencies are observed on gully banks that are more susceptible to desiccation cracking, and propose that future peatland restoration works could prioritise mitigating against pipe formation by revegetating and reprofiling south and west facing gully banks.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107322
Early online date28 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2020


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