Universal Soil Loss Equation and ArcGIS Applications in Erosion of Arsenic Contaminated Soil

Authors: Kim Shellenberger*, , Nicole Wagner, West Chester University
Topics: Soils, Spatial Analysis & Modeling, Earth Science
Keywords: Arsenic Contamination, Soil Remediation, Soil Erosion, Arc Hydro
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/7/2020
Start / End Time: 4:00 PM / 5:15 PM
Room: Centennial Ballroom, Hyatt Regency, Third Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The Gordon Natural Area is a forested research and recreation space owned by West Chester University of Pennsylvania, and once hosted apple orchards on the grounds. Apple orchards operating prior to 1988 were often contaminated with arsenic, as arsenic pesticides were frequently used. It was the purpose of this study to determine if there was substantial contamination to warrant additional sample collection and potential remediation planning. Using handheld X-ray fluorescence, samples were collected, and coordinates were captured in Universal Transverse Mercator. Utilizing Arc Hydro tools in esri ArcMap, as well as the Universal Soil Loss Equation, I was able to determine the extent of contamination, the area needing remediation, and the annual soil loss of the area in its current condition, and what soil erosion would look like if the land was cleared. Additionally, using a digital elevation model of West Chester, Pennsylvania with Arc Hydro tools, allowed me to determine the direction of erosional flow and the areas of accumulation as well as mapping the watersheds affected by the mobilization of the contaminant. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Planning limits residential arsenic limits to 12 mg/kg ppm. However, the Gordan Natural Area had readings as high as 57mg/kg ppm, warranting further collection and remediation planning. Soil erosion is an ongoing issue causing not only the loss of valuable topsoil, but the mobilization of contaminants potentially housed in those soils.

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