Assessment of soil erodibility in Taleghan Drainage Basin, Iran, using multivariate statistics

Kazem Nosrati, Sadat Feiznia, Miet Van Den Eeckhaut, Sjoerd Duiker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Soil erosion has been recognized as one of the major forms of human-induced soil degradation. Due to land use changes in Iran, erosion has increased 800% between 1951 and 2002, calling for urgent action. But erosion research and policy development are hampered by a lack of information on the underlying factors controlling erosion. Soil types vary in their inherent susceptibility to erosion; but, like most countries, Iran lacks a network of field plots where erodibility is measured. A proxy for erodibility based on existing data and supplemented by an easily measured minimum data set is therefore needed. In this study, we use geological mapping and cluster, principal component, and factor analysis to group soils in the Taleghan Drainage Basin in Iran and subsequently determine their erodibility. First, a geological map of the area was prepared by photogeological methods and on-the-ground verification. Then, three soil profiles were investigated within similar landform units of each geological formation, and soil samples were taken. Physical and chemical properties that might impact soil erodibility (soil texture, pH, electrical conductivity, CaCO3, and soil organic matter) were used to create a matrix of soil properties and parent material. Application of cluster analysis and factor analysis to the data allowed identification of three geological (parent material) clusters. To investigate the mutual effect of land use and parent material on soil erodibility, a soil erodibility factor was obtained for three land use types in each cluster: rangeland, cropland (irrigated), and dry-land farming (nonirrigated). Geological cluster 1, consisting of marl, gypsum, and gypsiferous mudstone, was the most erodible; geological cluster 2, consisting of recent alluvium, alluvial fan, and landslip deposits, was of intermediate erodibility; and geological cluster 3, consisting of igneous rocks, dolomite, and conglomerate, was the least erodible. Within each geological cluster, dry-land farming was the most erodible, cropland was medium erodible, and rangeland was least erodible. The study suggests that geological and land use maps provide a useful framework for assessing soil erodibility. This work can guide future soil erosion studies and direct soil conservation policy to areas most susceptible to erosion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)78-96
Number of pages19
JournalPhysical Geography
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Environmental Science
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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