Archive | Soil Erosion

Micro-plane Can Do Autonomous Surveys

PARIS, Sept. 1 (UPI) — An inexpensive unmanned aircraft system developed with the European Space Agency can provide quick monitoring of land areas or disaster zones, researchers say.

German company MAVinci has developed sat-nav guided autonomous micro-air vehicles with a wingspan of less than 7 feet, an ESA release said Wednesday.

“At the moment, the remote-sensing market uses mainly manned aeroplanes,” Johanna Born, CEO of MAVinci, says, “but they are expensive and not always available.”

“Our MAVs are cost-efficient, available at short notice and easy to use for surveillance of development areas, construction sites, disaster zones and waste disposal sites, just to mention a few,” Born said.

An autopilot controls the small aircraft from takeoff to landing and uses sat-nav to follow a planned track, triggering a camera to image the target area.

The MAV has already been used to help fight soil erosion in Spain, surveying erosion canyons in Andalusia to improve understanding of erosion dynamics to aid local farmers, the ESA said.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Other, Soil Erosion, Waste Disposal0 Comments

No-till Farming Makes Soil More Stable

MANHATTAN, Kan., May 18 (UPI) — A joint U.S. Department of Agriculture-university study suggests no-till farming can make soil much more stable than plowed soil.

The USDA’s Agricultural Research Service joined a team led by Kansas State University Assistant Professor Humberto Blanco-Canqui in studying the effects of more than 19 years of various tillage practices across the central Plains.

The team discovered no-till stores more soil carbon, which helps bind or glue soil particles together, making the first inch of topsoil two to seven times less vulnerable to the destructive force of raindrops than is plowed soil.

The researchers said the structure of the aggregates in the first inch of topsoil is the first line of defense against soil erosion by water or wind. They said understanding the resistance of such aggregates to the erosive forces of wind and rain is critical to evaluating soil erodibility, especially in semiarid regions where low precipitation, high evaporation and yield variability can interact with intensive tillage to alter aggregate properties and soil organic matter content.

Tillage makes soil less resistant to being broken apart by raindrops because the clumping is disrupted and soil organic matter is lost through oxidation when soil particles are exposed to air.

The study that included the University of Nebraska-Sidney and ARS researchers Maysoon Mikha, Joe Benjamin and Merle Vigil was reported in a recent issue of the Soil Science Society of America Journal.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Other, Soil Erosion, Wind0 Comments

Mudslide Blocks Washington State Rail Line

SEATTLE, March 12 (UPI) — A mudslide halted rail passenger service Friday morning on the line between Seattle and Vancouver, Canada.

Officials said trains will be halted on the line until Sunday, the Seattle Times reported. Under federal regulations, freight can move but passenger service is banned for 48 hours after a slide as a precaution.

Both Sound Transit, which operates weekday commuter trains between Everett and Seattle, and Amtrak, which has trains connecting Seattle and Vancouver, planned to use buses to get riders from Everett to Seattle.

Gus Melonas, a spokesman for Burlington Northern Santa Fe, which owns the track, said the slide occurred in Richmond Beach, south of Edmonds, Wash., and about 20 miles north of Seattle. He said mud and rocks spilled down a hillside after heavy rain in an area where slides have occurred in the past.

The slide covered about 20 feet of track.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Buses, Soil Erosion0 Comments

I-70 Reopens After Massive Colo. Rock Slide

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo., March 11 (UPI) — Interstate 70 through Colorado’s Glenwood Canyon reopened Thursday, three days after a rockslide of gigantic boulders covered the roadway in both directions.

One lane was opened in each direction with a 14-foot width restriction, state transportation department officials said.

The speed limit was reduced to 40 mph through the 16-mile canyon, whose walls climb as high as 1,300 feet above the Colorado River.

Traveling in one lane in each direction, rather than two, will continue for an undetermined number of weeks as an estimated $2 million in roadway and drainage-system repair work is completed, The Aspen Times reported.

The boulders — some as large as tractor-trailers — tumbled down and broke through the concrete roadbed in both directions.

A 20-foot-diameter boulder hanging precariously on a ledge about 900 feet above the highway was blasted away Wednesday, with helicopters lowering crews onto the boulder to drill holes into the rock and pack it with explosives, The Denver Post reported.

The closed segment of I-70 was the interstate highway’s final leg and opened to traffic in 1992.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Soil Erosion, Transportation0 Comments

Landslides Kill Dozens in Uganda

KAMPALA, Uganda, March 2 (UPI) — Landslides in Uganda’s coffee-growing district of Mbale have killed at least 50 people, officials said Tuesday.

In addition, local authorities said hundreds of people were missing after homes were washed away in Bududa district, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Officials said that at least 50 bodies were recovered Tuesday morning, expressing fears the death toll would rise because at least 300 people were missing.

“Our rescue team is on the ground,” said Judith Nabakoba, a Ugandan police spokeswoman. “We hope to find some survivors.”

Mbale is the leading coffee producing region in eastern Uganda.

People living on mountain slopes have been asked to leave the area, Uganda’s Ministry of Disaster Preparedness said. People living in low-lying, flood-prone areas have also been asked to leave.

Uganda has had above-normal rainfall this year, the Journal said. The country’s weather agency predicts heavy downpours will continue up to May.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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Landslide at Tea Plantation Kills Dozens

JAKARTA, Feb. 24 (UPI) — A landslide at a tea plantation in Indonesia’s West Java province killed at least 72 people, disaster officials said.

Sofyan Nataprawira, head of Bandung district’s disaster management and refugee coordinating agency, said five victims have been extracted from Tuesday’s landslide, but 67 others remained buried, the Antara news agency reported.

Nataprawira said rescuers had difficulty reaching the Dewata tea plantation in Tenjolaya because the slide occurred between the plantation and forests, making deployment of heavy machinery complicated.

The landslide overran nearly all parts of the plantation, including the offices, the report said.

“We have difficulty contacting the authorities due to the absence of cellular phone signals,” Nataprawira said.

Bandung district and other parts of West Java have been belted by heavy rains during the past two months, officials said. Landslides had occurred in Bandung district, and in the cities of Bogor and Garut.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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Madeira Storms Subside, at Least 40 Dead

FUNCHAL, Portugal, Feb. 21 (UPI) — Search-and-rescue teams fanned out across the Portuguese island of Madeira Sunday where floods and mudslides claimed at least 40 lives, officials said.

A spokesman for the civil protection agency told CNN at least 120 people were injured and an undetermined number of people were missing on the tourist island.

Spokesman Pedro Barbosa told CNN the casualty totals could rise as the day goes on.

“We have some parts where we can’t go because the bridges are down,” he said.

Barbosa said hundreds of people were evacuated to shelters as the torrential rain washed away roads and damaged homes in the capital of Funchal and in Riberia Brava.

Portugal has asked the European Union for disaster financial aid, Radio France Internationale reported Sunday.

Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates was on the island to assess the damage, while President Anibal Cavaco Silva pledged support for the victims of the storm.

The worst damage was on the southern portion of the island, located about 600 miles southwest of Portugal.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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Mudslides Kill at Least 38 in Portugal

FUNCHAL, Portugal, Feb. 21 (UPI) — Mudslides and floods on the island of Madeira killed 38 people, injured 100 others and left an undetermined number missing, Portuguese authorities said.

Hundreds of people were evacuated to shelters as the heavy rain hit the island overnight, washing away roads and damaging homes in the capital of Funchal and in Riberia Brava, said Pedro Barbosa, a spokesman for Maderia’s Civil Protection Agency.

Portugal has asked the European Union for disaster financial aid, Radio France Internationale reported Sunday.

Search and rescue teams reinforced by Portuguese military personnel deployed Sunday throughout the hardest hit parts of the southern end of the island, a popular tourist area about 600 miles southwest of Portugal.

Weather conditions had improved significantly by Sunday and rains were decreasing, which eased the work of a navy ship and helicopters delivering medical and relief supplies.

Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates was on the island to assess the damage, while President Cavaco Silva pledged support for the victims of the storm, CNN reported.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Military, Soil Erosion0 Comments

Coastal Erosion Suddenly Threatens California Apartment Community

OAKLAND, Calif., Jan. 4 (UPI) — Residents of an apartment complex on a California cliff side say they watched nervously Monday as workers tried to save the building from crashing onto a beach.

Erosion and tides eroded the cliff, which dropped away a chunk measuring 10 feet by 30 feet, KTVU-TV, Oakland, reported.

“We walked out there and said oh my gosh … it’s just dropped,” Rick Jenkins said.

Jenkins was there when 20 of his neighbors had to evacuate last month when the cliff eroded to the edge of their apartment building, KTVU said.

The section of cliff face that dropped off was directly behind the apartment belonging to Betty Sue Lukins.

“It was here early this morning and it’s not here now,” said Lukins. “The white pipe went straight out that way because there was land underneath it. Now today it’s all bent down like an elbow because there’s no land under it.”

Engineers who have been placing boulders at the base of cliff for 16 days to curb erosion say there’s no immediate cause for concern.

“Sometimes the rocks will just be doing a great job. It takes that one big wave. We’ve had a couple go right over the top of the rocks today,” engineer Tony Fortunato said.

Copyright 2010 by United Press International

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At Least 45 Dead in Brazil Landslides

RIO DE JANEIRO, Jan. 1 (UPI) — Landslides in the Rio de Janeiro area triggered by heavy rains caused at least 45 deaths, Argentine government officials said Friday.

Brasil Online reported initial reports from officials indicated the 22 killed in one landslide at Angra dos Reis included at least a dozen tourists.

Jornal do Brasil reported search-and-rescue efforts had been suspended for the night and were to resume Saturday. Rio de Janeiro state Gov. Sergio Cabral, who declared three days of morning, was expected to reach the disaster scene in the morning.

CNN reported a giant mudslide came down on the Sankay Inn resort at Angra dos Reis about 4:30 a.m., killing 22 and injuring two dozen more State officials said 15 more bodies were found floating on the nearby island of Ilha Grande. Others reportedly died in smaller landslides.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said he would dispatch military personnel to help carry out rescue and relief efforts in remote coastal areas where more bodies were believed to be trapped.

Copyright 2010 by United Press International

Posted in Land & Soil, Military, Soil Erosion0 Comments

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