British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium

Design of a rainfall simulator to measure erosion of reclaimed surfaces Sawatsky, Les; Dick, Wes; Cooper, Dave L.; Keys, Marie


Rainfall simulation is a useful tool in the analysis of soil erosion. The use of rainfall simulators has become more widespread with the development of automated instrumentation and control systems which offer a physically based system of predicting soil erosion. A variety of simulator designs have been used. This paper describes a rainfall simulator designed for analysis of erosion on steep (2.5H: 1V) reclaimed sand slopes at two oil sand mines near Fort McMurray, Alberta. The rainfall simulator applies artificial rain on a 225 m² test site divided into two side-by-side test plots. Most rainfall simulators have used a constant intensity of rainfall throughout a given simulation event. The rainfall simulator designed for this project can vary the rainfall application rate in fifteen discrete rainfall intensity increments. Therefore, it is capable of simulating a variety of non-uniform rainfall hyetographs. The rainfall simulator consists of a system of seven nozzles on each of 27 vertical support pipes. A combination of nozzles was used to simulate a desired uniform or non-uniform rainfall hyetograph with intensities ranging from 10 mm/h to 200 mm/h. The rainfall simulator also successfully simulated extreme historic and synthetic hyetographs.

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