Piping forms in eastern Iran - a synergy of remote sensing and soil science research

We are very pleased to announce the latest publication by Prof. dr Jean Poesen (Department of Geology, Soil Science and Geoinformation, UMCS) published in GEODERMA:

Kariminejad N., Sepehr A., Poesen J., & Hassanli A., 2023. Combining UAV remote sensing and pedological analyses to better understand soil piping erosion. Geoderma429, 116267. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.geoderma.2022.116267 

The study and mapping of evidences of soil piping using non-destructive techniques is a key issue in quantitative geomorphology. This paper attempts to combine Aerial mapping systems (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV)), soil physical and chemical attributes, and near-surface geophysical survey tools (ground penetrating radar and electrical resistivity tomography) to provide a comprehensive understanding of geometric features of soil piping in arid and semi-arid regions. The UAV Mapping System was applied to prepare ortho-photos, topography, analytical hill shading, drainage density, and land use maps of two different piping sites (site 1: rangelands, and site 2: agricultural lands) in Sarakhs plain, Razavi Khorasan Province, northeastern Iran. The physical and chemical soil attributes were analyzed in six soil profiles to check the hypothesis that these soil attributes control the occurrence of piping-related features (i.e., sinkhole, blind gully, gully), and to test if there are any differences in soil properties between the two land use types. The near surface geophysical tools were used to determine the approximate size of soil pipes, and to simulate their internal structure. The results of the derived UAV’s independent variables confirmed that typical soil erosion features related to piping (i.e., sinkhole, blind gully, gully) developed exactly in adjustment with subsurface processes (i.e., drainage density). The quantitative algorithms of pedology revealed significant differences of Na+ and SAR for soil profiles with and without piping erosion, but these soil properties themselves are not enough to explain piping development at the two study sites. The volume of GPR line surveys was 1701.5 m3 in site 1 and 1203 m3 in site 2. The potential distribution of subsurface pipes revealed by applying GPR were more extensive than those deduced from soil surface observations: three-dimensional pipe number density (number of soil pipes per unit soil volume; # m−3) of potential pipes and collapsed cavities simulated with a mean pipe length and pipe depth of 143.4 cm and 88 cm in rangelands and 175.75 cm and 79.14 cm in agricultural lands, respectively. The maximum density of pipes or pipe roof collapses occurred within soil depth boundaries of 0–50 cm at site 1 and 30–100 cm at site 2. The ratio of surface erosion features to subsurface potential piping in rangeland and agricultural lands was ca. 26.1 % and 10.4 %, respectively. The electrical resistivity tomography (ERT) measurements indicated higher resistivity values in piping-prone areas, where pipes were initiated at the bedrock interface. Integrating all data obtained by different techniques in this study allowed to better understand the extent of piping erosion in both surface and subsurface soil horizons.

Link to article (Open Acces)

Publication list of Institute staff


    Date of addition
    23 November 2022