Abstract

A dendrogeomorphic study of slope retreat was conducted at the Maxey Flats nuclear-waste disposal site in northeastern Kentucky. Tree roots exposed by surface lowering were used as an indicator of ground surface at the time of germination. The amount of lowering was measured and divided by tree-ring-determined tree age. Surface lowering and slope degradation rates were estimated for three slopes below waste-burial trenches and compared with data obtained from sediment troughs and erosion frames at the site. Mean rates of slope retreat ranged from 1.92 to 3.16 mm/yr. Sediment-trough results are two to three orders of magnitude less than dendrogeomorphic and erosion-frame estimates of slope degradation, which suggests that piping and solution-weathering processes may be important in slope degradation. Slope aspect and declivity may be important factors affecting retreat of slopes with a uniform lithology. Dendrogeomorphic techniques provide results comparable to those in the literature and offer a rapid method for estimating slope retreat that integrates slope processes over many years.

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