US Geological Survey


Date of this Version



Published in JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH, VOL. 87, NO. Cll, PAGES 9003-9015, OCTOBER 20, 1982.


Desert soils having clay crusts, mostly from the Mojave Desert, were tested for threshold friction velocity (the friction velocity at which soil erosion begins) with an open-bottomed wind tunnel. The soils were also tested for content of clay, water-soluble material, calcium carbonate, organic material, mineralogy of clay and of salts, soil moisture, modulus of rupture, and crust thickness. If no loose material existed on the soil surface, crusts having modulus of rupture greater than 0.7 bar and crust thickness of 0.7 cm to 0.3 cm were effective in protecting against wind erosion. Disturbed clay crusts having modulus of rupture before disturbance greater than 2 bar with thickness less than 1.9 cm did not experience significant wind erosion. Modulus of rupture was related to composition of soil but was shown to depend mostly on clay content. Soil composition is related to modulus of rupture in an empirical equation.