Sediment budget for an eroding peat-moorland catchment in northern England

Martin Evans, Jeff Warburton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper describes a detailed contemporary sediment budget from a small peat-covered, upland catchment in Upper Teesdale, northern England. The sediment budget was constructed by measuring: (1) sediment transfers on slopes, (2) sediment flux on the floodplain and through the main stream channel and (3) sediment yield at the catchment outlet. Measurements were taken over a four-year monitoring period between July 1997 and October 2001 when interannual variations in runoff were relatively small. Three sites were selected to represent the major erosion subsystems within the catchment: an area of bare peat flats, a pair of peat gullies, and a 300 m channel reach. Collectively the sites allow detailed characterization of the main patterns of sediment flux within the catchment and can be scaled up to provide an estimate of the sediment budget for the catchment as a whole. This constitutes the first attempt to provide a complete description of the functioning of the sediment system in eroding blanket peatlands. Results demonstrate that fluvial suspended sediment flux is controlled to a large degree by channel processes. Gully erosion rates are high but coupling between the slopes and channels is poor and therefore the role of hillslope sediment supply to catchment output is reduced. Consequently contemporary sediment export from the catchment is controlled primarily by in-channel processes. Error analysis of the sediment budgets is used to discuss the limitations of this approach for assessing upland sediment dynamics. A 60 per cent reduction in fluvial suspended sediment yield from Rough Sike over the last 40 years correlates with photographic evidence of significant re-vegetation of gullies over a similar period. This strongly suggests that the reduced sediment yields are a function of increased sediment storage at the slope-channel interface, associated with re-vegetation. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)557-577
Number of pages20
JournalEarth Surface Processes and Landforms
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2005


  • Channel processes
  • Peat erosion
  • Sediment budget
  • Sediment storage


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