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Dust emission source characterization for visibility hazard assessment on Lordsburg Playa in Southwestern New Mexico, USA

Dust emission source characterization for visibility hazard assessment on Lordsburg Playa in... In drylands around the world, ephemeral lakes (playas) are common. Dry, wind-erodible playa sediments are potent local and regional sources of dust and PM (airborne particles with diameters less than 10 μm). Dust clouds often cause sudden and/or prolonged loss of visibility to travelers on downwind roadways. Lordsburg Playa, in southwestern New Mexico, USA is bisected by Interstate Highway 10. Dust storms emanating from the playa have been responsible for numerous visibility-related road closures (including 39 road closures between 2012 and 2019) causing major economic losses, in addition to well over a hundred dust-related vehicle crashes causing at least 41 lost lives in the last 53 years. In order to improve understanding of the surfaces responsible for the dust emissions, we investigated the critical wind friction velocity thresholds and the dust emissivities of surfaces representing areas typical of Lordsburg Playa’s stream deltas, shorelines, and ephemerally flooded lakebed using a Portable In-Situ Wind ERosion Laboratory − 1 (PI-SWERL). Mean threshold friction velocities for PM entrainment ranged from less than 0.30 m s for areas in the − 1 delta and shoreline to greater than 0.55 m s for ephemerally flooded areas of the lakebed. Similarly, we quantified − 2 − 1 mean PM vertical flux rates ranging from less than 500 μgm s for ephemerally flooded areas of lakebed to nearly − 2 − 1 25,000 μgm s for disturbed delta surfaces. The unlimited PM supply of the relatively coarse sediments along the western shoreline is problematic and indicates that this may be the source area for longer-term visibility reducing dust events and should be a focus area for dust mitigation efforts. Keywords: PM , Dust storms, Visibility, Highway safety, Surface emissivity, Wind erosion Introduction and background state line. According to Botkin and Hutchinson (2020), at Semiarid and arid regions of the world are disproportion- least 120 dust events affected the Lordsburg Playa during ate sources of windblown sand (Pye and Tsoar 2009)and the eight years from 2012 to early 2020. Lordsburg Playa dust aerosols (Prospero et al. 2002; Zobeck and Van Pelt is not only one of the sources of the most intense dust 2006). Playas (dry or intermittently-wetted lake beds in in- storms in the Chihuahuan Desert (Rivera-Rivera et al. ternal drainage basins), being flat, windswept, and unvege- 2010), but is also crossed by Interstate Highway 10 (Fig. 1), tated, are prominent source areas of dust storms globally the southernmost transcontinental highway in the Ameri- (Prospero et al. 2002) including the Chihuahuan Desert of can Interstate Highway System, and a major transporta- southwest North America (Baddock et al. 2011a, 2011b). tion artery extending from Florida to California. One such playa is Lordsburg Playa in Hidalgo County, Approximately 15,000 vehicles per day, about 30% of southwestern New Mexico, USA, just east of the Arizona which were trucks, crossed the playa on Interstate High- way 10in2016(Haas 2017). The Union Pacific railroad crosses Lordsburg Playa parallel to and approximately 30 * Correspondence: scott.vanpelt@usda.gov USDA Agricultural Research Service, 302 W. Interstate 20, Big Spring, TX, USA m north of the interstate. Full list of author information is available at the end of the article © The Author(s). 2020 Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/. Van Pelt et al. Geoenvironmental Disasters (2020) 7:34 Page 2 of 12 Fig. 1 Satellite image of Lordsburg Playa dissected by Interstate 10 showing the locations (green diamonds) of surfaces that were tested with the PI-SWERL as listed in Table 1 and the NMDOT weather stations (NM003 and NM004) (yellow diamonds) According to the World Health Organization (2018), together increase the likelihood for loss of vehicle con- traffic crashes are the ninth leading cause of death trol and collisions. Goudie (2014), searched newspaper worldwide. In the United States, on average, the annual clippings for 12 consecutive months in the period of death toll from motor vehicle crashes due to weather re- 2012 to 2013, reported that dust-related fatal highway lated visibility and vision hazards such as fog, smoke, crashes happened in six states of the U.S. in a single dust, and blowing sand, exceeds the number of fatalities year. Numerous case reports have been published of caused by other weather-related hazards including tor- blowing and drifting dust and sand causing highway nados, floods, tropical cyclones, and lightning (Ashley crashes, especially multi-vehicle incidents on high-speed et al. 2015; Bhattachan et al. 2019). Due to the arid cli- roads including interstate highways (Pauley et al. 1996; mate of the Chihuahuan Desert, fog, the most common Laity 2003; Goudie 2014; Deetz et al. 2016; Nicoll et al. weather phenomenon affecting highway visibility (Ashley 2020). The U.S. National Weather Service reported that et al. 2015) is rare in the Lordsburg basin. dust events are the third largest weather-related cause of Windblown (aeolian) dust and sand crossing transpor- highway casualties in the state of Arizona, resulting in at tation corridors in drylands is increasingly recognized as least 157 fatalities and 1324 injuries statewide in 50 years a direct threat to human health and safety (Goudie 2014; (Lader et al. 2016). Baddock et al. 2013; Middleton 2017; Li et al. 2017; Lordsburg Playa is the only dust-emitting playa Zheng-chao 2018; Bhattachan et al. 2019; Davari et al. crossed by an interstate highway in the southwest USA, 2019). Dust and sand blowing across roadways causes although ~ 1000 km north of Lordsburg, Interstate High- sudden loss of visibility (Ashley et al. 2015) and reduced way 80 crosses the playa of Great Salt Lake, Utah and traction on the road surface (Davari et al. 2019), and has been the location of fatal dust-related traffic wrecks Van Pelt et al. Geoenvironmental Disasters (2020) 7:34 Page 3 of 12 (Nicoll et al. 2020). Plumes of airborne dust and sand or detours on major transportation corridors caused by crossing the highway close to their source (Fig. 2) there- dust storms cause significant economic losses as well as fore represent an immediate hazard to roadway traffic health and safety hazards. Only a few studies have pro- due to sudden loss of visibility and resulting driver dis- vided an in-depth analysis on the occurrence of such orientation (Ashley et al. 2015; Li et al. 2017). The au- events, and little information is available to highway thors are not aware of any individual stretch of road in managers on the mitigation and management of this the southwest United States having a greater dust hazard hazard (Li et al. 2017). than Interstate Highway 10 across Lordsburg Playa, Interstate Highway 10 across Lordsburg Playa was where at least 117 dust/wind-related traffic crashes were closed to traffic for dust-related safety reasons at least recorded by public safety authorities between 1980 and 39 times between 2012 and 2019 (Botkin and Hutchin- 2017 (New Mexico Department of Transportation 2018). son 2020). When the highway is closed, vehicles must ei- In these crashes, at least 41 dust-related traffic fatalities ther wait potentially for hours until weather conditions have occurred since 1965, including 21 deaths since abate, or detour 172 km and an additional > 2 h travel 2012; seven persons were killed in one dust event in time onto two-lane secondary roads not designed for May 2014 and ten killed in 4 dust events during 2017 heavy truck traffic (ADOT 2019), causing economic (Associated Press 2017; Botkin and Hutchinson 2020). losses not only via increased travel time and other logis- Dust and sand blowing across highways not only con- tical delays, but also by damaging pavement and bridges stitutes a direct health and safety hazard, it also causes on the structurally-weaker alternate routes. In order to significant economic impacts. A single traffic fatality was facilitate the detour’s increased traffic flow during high estimated to cost US $1.38 million in 2010 dollars when wind events and make this route safer, the Arizona medical care, emergency services, productivity over a Department of Transportation (ADOT) is planning to lifetime, insurance, workplace costs, and legal costs were spend nearly US $60 million (ADOT 2019). The New considered (Blincoe et al. 2015). Beyond healthcare- Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT) has related costs from crashes, aeolian dust and sand cross- spent nearly US $2 million in recent years (Trent Botkin, ing highways disrupts and delays transportation and de- NMDOT, personal communication) to study and miti- livery of goods, services, and people, increases costs for gate the dust threat. Meanwhile other agencies including highway maintenance and deployment of public safety the U.S. Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Bur- personnel, and causes significant property damage; thus, eau of Land Management (BLM), USDA Natural Re- it is a significant “off-site” cost of wind erosion (Pimentel sources Conservation Service (NRCS), and other et al. 1995: Baddock et al. 2013). The US Federal High- agencies and contractors have joined with both states’ way Administration (FHWA) (2005) notes that commer- departments of transportation, working diligently to- cial shippers and carriers value transit time at $25 to gether to attempt to mitigate this hazard with $200 per hour, depending on the value and perishability engineering-based and biological (vegetation-based) dust of the product being carried, so weather-related delays control approaches. Fig. 2 Dust clouds blowing across Interstate Highway 10 on Lordsburg Playa while the highway is open to automobile and truck traffic, March 22, 2016 Van Pelt et al. Geoenvironmental Disasters (2020) 7:34 Page 4 of 12 We initiated this study to quantify the dust emissivities cryptandrus (Torr.) Gray) and ring muhly (Muhlenbergia of likely potential dust source surfaces surrounding and torreyi (Kunth) Hitchc.) in well drained sandier areas within the Lordsburg Playa. To accomplish this objective above the shoreline. Following closure of several mining we used accepted instrumentation and methodologies to districts in the Lordsburg basin during the early twenti- directly measure dust emissions for many representative eth century, livestock grazing is the primary land use in surfaces at increasing friction velocities. With this know- the surrounding area. ledge, land managers both public and private in partner- We conducted tests on surface dust emissivity using a ship with transportation authorities may be able to Portable In-Situ Wind ERosion Laboratory (PI-SWERL) prioritize areas for control to mitigate future dust out- (Etyemezian et al. 2007) in March 2018. The PI-SWERL is a breaks, thus protecting human health and safety and re- computer-controlled aspirated cylindrical chamber approxi- ducing economic impacts of blowing dust and sand. mately 30 cm in diameter that entrains dust by rotating a metallic ring a few centimeters above the soil surface, creat- Methods and materials ing the shear stress necessary to entrain loose particles. The − 1 Lordsburg Playa comprises several intermittently con- cylindrical chamber is aspirated with 1.67 l s of filtered air nected ephemerally flooded dry lakebeds in the northern and a portion of the exhaust is continuously drawn into a part of the Animas Basin within the Basin and Range DustTrak, a fast response nephelometer (Model 8530, TSI physiographic province and the northwestern Chihuahuan Instruments, Shoreview, Minnesota, USA) to measure PM Desert ecoregion. These dry lakebeds represent the bot- (airborne particles with diameter smaller than 10 μm) con- tom of Pleistocene Lake Animas (Allen 2005). The lakes centrations. The PI-SWERL has been shown to provide data are the termination of drainage from the Pyramid Moun- on dust emissions and surface erodibilities very similar to a tains, the south and west slopes of Burro Peak, the eastern larger linear wind tunnel (Sweeney et al. 2008)and has slopes of the Peloncillo Mountains, and the west and proven useful for estimating dust emissivities at other playas north slopes of the Animas Mountains. The largest and including Yellow Lake, Texas (Sweeney et al. 2016), the southernmost of the dry lake beds is sometimes named Salton Sea, California (King et al. 2011), and several playa Kathrine Playa, and is the lakebed through which U.S. surfaces in Namibia (Von Holdt et al. 2019). Interstate Highway 10 traverses. The altitude of the For tests on the Lordsburg Playa surfaces, we set the lakebed is approximately 1263 m above mean sea level PI-SWERL on a surface typical of the surrounding area and the climate is arid with approximately 30 cm of aver- (Fig. 3) and initiated a nine-minute (540 s) hybrid test age annual precipitation more than half of which typically (Table 1). The hybrid PI-SWERL test intervals and falls during the North American Monsoon between July RPMs were determined in preliminary tests (unpub- and September. Five months of the year have average lished) on a wide variety of soil surfaces throughout the maximum temperatures in excess of 30 C with June, the US to provide consistency for comparisons among hottest month, having an average maximum of 35 C. Soils in the Lordsburg Playa basin are classified pri- marily as aridisols of the Hondale series (Fine, mixed, superactive, Thermic Natargid) in the Animas Creek delta and along the western shoreline, Playas series (Fine, mixed, superactive, Sodic Haplocambid) in the ephemerally flooded lakebed, and small areas of vertisols of the Verhalen silty clay loam series (Fine, smectitic, thermic Typic Haplotorrerts) on the eastern shoreline. Although the playa surface is saline and alkaline with oc- casional salt efflorescences (puffy growths of evaporite minerals on the surface) (Reynolds et al. 2007), the sur- face sediments are comprised of primary silicate and clay minerals with lower concentrations of evaporites (salt minerals) than many other dust-emitting playas in North America (Hibbs et al. 2000; Mitroo et al. 2019). Vegetation of the area is typical of the lower elevation Chihuahuan Desert with dominant shrubs such as sev- eral species of saltbush (Atriplex spp.) and seablight (Suaeda nigrescens I.M. Johnst) with alkali sacaton (Spor- Fig. 3 PI-SWERL in test configuration on an undisturbed surface at obolus airoides (Torr.) Torr.) as the dominant grass in the eastern beach area (EPL) the saline areas and sand dropseed (Sporobolus Van Pelt et al. Geoenvironmental Disasters (2020) 7:34 Page 5 of 12 various studies and locations. The hybrid test uses a applicable to playa soils due possibly to the presence of combination of both ramps and steps during a single soluble salts. measurement. The hybrid test was chosen over a con- From PI-SWERL data, friction velocities, u* (a measure tinual RPM ramp because It identifies surfaces that of shear-related motion in moving fluids that may result are not supply limited. Similar hybrid tests have been in vertical entrainment of particles) were obtained at a used for previous studies (Kavouras et al. 2009;Etye- frequency of 1 Hz by regressing the rotating ring RPM mezian et al. 2014; Fick et al. 2019). Following test vs Irwin sensor measured friction velocity data provided initiation, the PI-SWERL was controlled by and all in the PI-SWERL Operator Manual v1.3 Fig. 1.2 (Dust- test data, including data from the DustTrak, was Quant 2011) and entering the instantaneous rotating logged in an imbedded computer. Test operation data ring RPM into the resulting regression eq. PI-SWERL was monitored real-time and the test discontinued to estimates of threshold friction velocity u* (the friction protect the optical bench of the DustTrak if the PM velocity at which particles will become entrained in the − 3 concentration exceeded 400 mg m . fluid) were not simple; we almost always saw an initial Seven sites in the Lordsburg Playa basin (Fig. 1) were spike in PM concentration both when the airflow tested with the PI-SWERL and at least four replicates started during the first few seconds of the test and again were conducted on fresh surfaces at each of the sites. at the first few seconds of rotating ring acceleration to Three of the sites were located on delta deposits on the 2000 RPM. This spike phenomenon is possibly due to vi- fringe of the playa associated with Animas Creek south bration within the PI-SWERL at startup, dislodging par- of Interstate Highway 10 and represented land used for ticles within the system. Under both these test phases, cattle grazing designated as sites AD1, AD2, and AD3. we saw the PM concentrations fall to near pre-test Two of the sites had thick, hard, clay-rich lacustrine sed- levels within 30 s after the initial spike. We visually de- iments that dried into indurate crusts of distinct poly- termined the u* by inspecting the PM concentration t 10 gons designated sites RFP and PC. Finally, two of the curve to determine when the fresh PM was being sites were shoreline (beach) areas at the eastern and entrained from the ground surface. PM emissivity western margins of the lakebed designated as sites EB expressed as mass per unit time per unit area was calcu- and WB, respectively. At each replicated test location, lated by dividing the instrument-determined vertical flux − 1 2 GPS coordinates were recorded, approximately 100 g of rate data (μgs ) by the 0.026 m effective area of the the 0–5 cm surface sediment was sampled, and the sur- rotating ring. face threshold friction velocity (u* ) was estimated using The 2 m mean wind velocity that would result in an the airgun and penetrometer technique of Li et al. exceedance of the United States EPA National Ambient − 3 (2010). Where both undisturbed and disturbed (cattle Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for PM of 150 μgm tracks or vehicle tire tracks) surfaces were sampled for a – representing a visibility-reducing dust cloud - was cal- total of 44 tests, GPS coordinates and soil samples were culated by taking the measured PM concentration in obtained. Estimates of u* using the airgun and pene- the PI-SWERL that would result in a 30 m mixed col- trometer technique were terminated after 37 tests due to umn of air with PM that would equal or exceed the airgun malfunction. Analysis of collected airgun and PM NAAQS. The height of the inside of the bell of the penetrometer data revealed that this method may not be PI-SWERL is 20 cm. The 30 m height for mixing was Table 1 Summary of the hybrid PI-SWERL test used to assess surface dust emissivities and threshold friction velocities Cumulative Test Time (s) Interval Time (s) Operation 0–540 540 Aspirate PI-SWERL bell and record PM concentration 0–60 60 No ring movement 61–105 45 Accelerate ring to 2000 RPM 106–165 60 Maintain ring at 2000 RPM 166–210 45 Accelerate ring to 3000 RPM 211–270 60 Maintain ring at 3000 RPM 271–315 45 Accelerate ring to 4000 RPM 316–375 60 Maintain ring at 4000 RPM 376–420 45 Accelerate ring to 5000 RPM 421–480 60 Maintain ring at 5000 RPM 481–540 60 Decelerate ring to 0 RPM Van Pelt et al. Geoenvironmental Disasters (2020) 7:34 Page 6 of 12 arbitrarily chosen as it is quite possible in turbulence for parameters and surface factors including soil texture and PM to mix to this height. Thus, by multiplying the %PM was performed in Microsoft Excel graphs by fit- 10 10 NAAQS standard by 150 times the inside depth of the ting trendlines, linear equations, and R values for the bell from which dust measurements were obtained, the relationships. concentration inside the bell must be at least 22.5 mg − 3 m for this value to be reached or exceeded. The fric- Results and discussion tion velocity calculated for this 1 s time step was subse- Mean GPS locations, as well as means and standard de- quently entered into Prandtl’s equation using 0.4 for von viations of surface sand, silt, clay, and PM percentages Karman’s Constant and a mean value from several of each site are presented in Table 2. Although some soil − 5 sources of 2 X 10 m for the roughness length of a bare PSD variation is evident among the sites, the soil at the smooth surface to obtain the expected mean wind speed west beach site stands out as having much sandier ma- at 2 m. Wind speed is nearly universally reported at the terial and much lower content of PM than any of the standard reported height of 2 m. This would be the others. The western edge of Lordsburg Playa is close to mean reported wind speed at which the PM NAAQS the Peloncillo Mountains and several small drainages would be exceeded over similar surfaces. The same cal- empty as alluvial fans directly onto the playa surface culation based on Prandtl’s equation was used to esti- from relatively steep terrain. In addition to the nearby mate the 2 m threshold wind speed for PM steep terrain and resulting coarse sediment transport on entrainment. It should be noted that these wind speeds the west side of the playa, close examination of aerial are based on a smoother bare surface as tested by the photography, satellite images, and discussions with local PI-SWERL and due to vegetation surrounding the bare land managers (Trent Botkin, NMDOT, personal com- surfaces that were tested, the actual threshold wind munication) has revealed that the dams of several small, speeds would probably be greater than the values fit. decades-old impoundments related to mining and cattle Weather data were collected from two NMDOT wea- grazing on the mountain slopes have been breached. ther stations located along Interstate Highway 10 on the These impoundments filled with sediment over time and lakebed (Fig. 1). The stations were established on July when their dams breached during seasonal rains, massive 22, 2015 and record 15-min wind speed means and max- coarse sediment flows were often formed which in this imum gust. These data, an average of 35,064 observa- area have flowed far onto the lakebed surface (Fig. 4). tions per year, were compared to the estimated Prior systematic analyses of remote sensing imagery have threshold wind speeds for PM entrainment, exceed- suggested that these zones of contact between coarse ance of the USEPA NAAQS, and the wind speed at sediments and fine playa materials play an enhanced role which the maximum dust entrainment was observed Table 2 Mean and standard deviation of longitude, latitude, during the PI-SWERL to estimate the percentage of ob- percent sand, silt, clay and PM for the surface sediment servations exceeding these values. The last date of data samples at the test sites considered was July 1, 2020. Site (Surface Longitude Latitude Sand Silt Clay PM The particle size distribution (PSD) of the surface soil Class) Degrees W Degrees N % % % % at each site was measured by laser diffraction spectros- AD1 (D) Mean 108.854 32.255 17.79 69.2 12.29 41.30 copy, generally following the procedures of Sperazza St. Dev. 1.91 E-5 8.64 E-5 1.01 1.10 0.50 1.36 et al. (2004). Soil samples were passed through a 2 mm AD2 (D) Mean 108.868 32.254 28.64 57.42 13.94 42.25 sieve to remove any gravel or plant debris and 0.2 to 0.6 St. Dev. 3.86 E-5 3.47 E-5 4.94 4.16 3.16 7.40 g of the sieved sample was dispersed in 11.5 ml of a so- AD3 (D) Mean 108.878 32.267 18.01 70.10 11.90 45.24 dium hexametaphosphate solution. The 15 ml tubes con- St. Dev. 8.03 E-5 5.4 E-5 1.08 1.29 1.32 3.41 taining the dispersed sample were shaken for 8 h before AD2 (L) Mean 108.868 32.254 30.66 57.16 12.18 37.57 introduction to the Malvern Mastersizer 2000 (Malvern St. Dev. 1.04 E-4 3.98 E-5 5.37 7.05 1.67 2.62 Instruments, Worcestershire, UK) that had been cali- RFP (L) Mean 108.943 32.242 29.02 62.27 8.70 33.72 brated using 0.2 g of ISO 12103-1 A4 coarse test dust. St. Dev. 5.89 E-4 6.68 E-4 12.27 12.00 0.51 2.93 For each dispersed sample, three individual PSD deter- PC (L) Mean 108.908 32.322 17.52 54.62 27.85 57.73 minations were made and the means of each PSD class St. Dev. 3.18 E-4 2.47 E-4 3.88 1.95 2.81 4.55 was calculated. From these means, we determined the RFP (B) Mean 108.944 32.242 56.72 36.17 7.11 25.22 percentage of sand (53 < d < 2000 μm), silt (2 < d < St. Dev. -- -- -- -- -- -- 53 μm), clay (d < 2 μm), and PM (d < 10 μm) in each of EB (B) Mean 108.832 32.333 41.33 45.35 13.32 42.55 the soil samples. St. Dev. 1.65 E-4 7.11 E-5 7.13 6.13 1.70 7.06 Statistical analysis of the data was done using Proc WB (B) Mean 108.933 32.315 84.59 12.23 3.17 10.80 St. Dev 1.93 E-5 4.41 E-5 13.00 10.76 2.24 8.83 GLM in SAS v9.4. Means were separated using Ryan’s Q. Regression relationships between the response surface classes are D = Delta, L = Lake, and B = Beach Van Pelt et al. Geoenvironmental Disasters (2020) 7:34 Page 7 of 12 areas and their emission rates were also very similar. For this reason, we considered them to be ephemerally flooded and segregated them from the other tests at this site. In a similar manner, one of the tests at the Road Forks Playa (RFP), an isolated ephemerally flooded area where Interstate Highway 10 enters Lordsburg Playa from the west, was performed on a mantle of aeolian sand that resembled a beach deposit and so we classified that as a beach type surface. With these exceptions, the replicate spots in each site were very uniform in surface characteristics and all PI-SWERL test derived data were used to calculate the means presented in Table 3. Weather data indicated that March, April, and May have greater 15-min mean wind speeds than the other months. This is very typical of the spring winds in southwestern North America and represents the season with the greatest number of synoptic dust storms cover- ing large areas. When gusts are considered, however, fre- quencies of exceedance for the threshold wind speeds increase for all months, especially during June, July, and August, months in which afternoon convective storms may form. In general, December, January, February, and Fig. 4 Aerial photograph of area on the west of Lordsburg Playa showing erosional head cutting in the left portions of the picture September are the months with the calmest winds. and subsequent deposition of eroded sediment on the playa surface Surface physical characteristics at the test sites such as in the right-hand portions of the image texture, structure, and the presence or absence of an un- disturbed crust had a significant impact on u* (p < in initiating dust storms in the Chihuahuan Desert due 0.0001), but not u* (p = 0.1658) or u* (p = 0.7975). exc max to the ability of the coarse sandy materials to saltate PM emissions on the other hand were greatly affected (hop in the wind) with resultant sandblasting of the by surface physical characteristics with the mean MaxQ finer, wind-entrainable lacustrine sediments (Rivera-Ri- of the beach deposits being more than 2 times that of vera et al. 2010). undisturbed delta soil surfaces whose mean MaxQ was Test site surface type, disturbance class, as well as fric- in turn over an order of magnitude greater than the tion velocities at threshold (u* ), NAAQS exceedance ephemerally flooded lacustrine deposits (p = 0.0018). (u* ), and maximum PM flux (u* ), as well as the Similarly, the TotQ during the test was highly influenced exc 10 max maximum vertical flux rate (MaxQ) and total PM flux by surface physical characteristics with the mean TotQ (TotQ) are presented in Table 3. In general, the sites we of beach deposits being over three times greater than the tested in the Animas Creek delta (D) and in the beach mean for undisturbed delta soil surfaces which had areas along the shorelines (B) were much more emissive mean TotQ of more than an order of magnitude greater based on MaxQ and TotQ than lakebed sites at RFP and than the mean for ephemerally flooded lacustrine de- PC that were ephemerally flooded (L). Specifically, the posits (p = 0.0003). undisturbed delta sites had MaxQ values between 3 and Although disturbance only influenced one of the u*, 7 times and TotQ values between 3 and 6 times the specifically u* , values significantly, it had a very sig- exc mean value for the ephemerally flooded sites. The dis- nificant effect on the maximum vertical flux of PM turbed sites had MaxQ values between 26 and 59 times (MaxQ) during the testing with disturbed sites having greater and TotQ values between 26 and 67 times the mean emission rates of nearly an order of magnitude mean value for the ephemerally flooded sites. Sites in greater than the undisturbed sites (p = 0.0131). Similarly, the delta to the south, AD1 and AD2, had apparently the total PM emitted by the disturbed sites was more been cultivated at some time in the past, but all were be- than an order of magnitude greater for the disturbed ing used for cattle grazing at the time of the field investi- sites than the undisturbed (p = 0.0266). These trends of gation. At one of the three sites, AD2, furrows had been increased PM emissions with soil crust disturbance are cut between the natural soil surface to hold water and, consistent with experimental findings at other wind hopefully, increase the survival of grass seedlings. The erodible playas (Cahill et al. 1996; Baddock et al. 2011b) surfaces of these furrow bottoms were very similar to and desert surfaces (Van Pelt et al. 2017; Klose et al. the hard crust polygons found in ephemerally flooded 2019) in the North American drylands, specifically Van Pelt et al. Geoenvironmental Disasters (2020) 7:34 Page 8 of 12 Table 3 Surface class (Delta, Lake, or Beach), disturbance class (Undisturbed or Disturbed), and mean and standard deviation of threshold friction velocity (u* ), friction velocity at which the NAAQS standard would be exceeded in a 30 m tall column of air (u* ), t exc friction velocity at which the maximum rate of PM vertical flux is observed (u* ), the maximum rate of PM10 vertical flux 10 maxQ observed (Max Q), and the total PM vertical flux for the nine minute PI-SWERL test (Tot Q) of each sample site −1 −1 −1 −2 − 1 −2 Site Surf. Class Disturb. Class u* (m s )u* (m s )u* (m s ) Max Q (μgm s ) Tot Q (μgm ) t exc maxQ AD1 D U Mean 0.31 0.80 0.81 1325.48 84,217 St. Dev. 0.02 0.02 0.00 919.87 69,106 AD1 D D Mean 0.31 0.62 0.81 11,030.94 845,554 St. Dev. 0.02 0.07 0.01 5498.17 5,168,485 AD2 D U Mean 0.26 0.74 0.80 3098.75 193,221 St. Dev. 0.05 0.12 0.02 2021.42 131,854 AD3 D U Mean 0.24 0.60 0.80 1248.26 999,201 St. Dev. 0.05 0.15 0.02 8697.52 832,504 AD3 D D Mean 0.31 0.50 0.68 24,977.63 2,226,249 St. Dev. 0.02 0.03 0.05 1778.07 682,823 AD2 L U Mean 0.31 -- 0.80 223.60 16,733 St. Dev. 0.01 -- 0.00 36.49 2287 RFP L U Mean 0.36 -- 0.81 476.06 45,648 St. Dev. 0.06 -- 0.00 406.79 77,958 PC L U Mean 0.56 0.81 0.80 561.84 36,857 St. Dev. 0.10 -- 0.02 717.75 49,034 RFP B U Mean 0.39 0.77 0.81 2450.36 288,993 St. Dev. -- -- -- -- -- EB B U Mean 0.30 0.72 0.81 7561.78 788,012 St. Dev. 0.10 0.08 0.00 12,282.01 1,266,773 WB B U Mean 0.28 0.50 0.80 17,182.49 2,727,300 St. Dev. 0.04 0.05 0.02 6844.97 1,084,141 including the effects of cattle activity (Baddock et al. disturbed (p = 0.0305). The mean values of u* for the exc 2011b) and off-highway vehicles (Goossens and Buck disturbed spots tested at AD1 and both undisturbed and 2009) in increasing dust emission through breakage of disturbed spots at AD3, when adjusted to 2 m wind surface crusts. The variance among disturbed sites for speed equivalents, were among very few with less than − 1 both these measures was much greater than for undis- gale force (< 17.5 m s ) velocities although frequencies turbed sites and thus we can state that undisturbed sites of exceedance during the five years of wind speed data were more predictable in their emission rates and total collection were only about 0.2% and 1.4%, respectively emissions than disturbed sites. This indicates the neces- for maximum wind gusts and much less than that for sity of limiting disturbance of natural dryland soil crusts 15-min means. The undisturbed surface crust at AD3 in land management plans for mitigating the dust haz- was very fragile and during a PI-SWERL test of these ard, especially in areas devoid of vegetation where aero- spots, it was not uncommon to see a very rapid rise in dynamic roughness lengths are very small. PM vertical flux rates. Such rapid increases would be In general, the three sites on the Animas Creek delta, consistent with the visual observation at the end of a test AD1, AD2, and AD3, had soils that were fine textured where the shear force had displaced a polygon of crust with shallow surface crusting. At site AD1, the move- and revealed easily entrainable sediments below, which ment of cattle along a fence line had disturbed the sur- has been noted as a key process threshold for increasing face very close to undisturbed PI-SWERL replicate test dust emission at other playas (Cahill et al. 1996). Dis- spots and we tested them as a subset of the site tests. turbance also did not significantly influence the friction Similarly, at site AD3, side by side undisturbed and tire- velocities at which the maximum vertical flux was ob- track-disturbed surfaces allowed us to assess the effects served, u* (p = 0.6491) although the variances of all max of crustal disturbance on PM emissions and related friction velocity values were much smaller for the undis- critical friction velocity parameters. We found no differ- turbed sites demonstrating the stabilizing influence of ences in u* related to disturbance of the soil crust at ei- soil crusting. We estimate from 15-min mean wind ther AD1 or AD3 (p = 0.9797) but the friction velocities speeds that the threshold wind speed at which PM en- − 3 at which the NAAQS standard of 150 μgm would be trainment would be initiated would be exceeded ap- exceeded in a 30 m atmospheric column, u* , was sig- proximately 5% of the time for sites at AD1, the Lakebed exc nificantly greater for undisturbed soil crusts than for surface at AD2, and the disturbed surface at AD3. Other Van Pelt et al. Geoenvironmental Disasters (2020) 7:34 Page 9 of 12 delta surface sites had higher frequencies of exceedance entrainment at EB and WB approximately 6% and 8% of including approximately 10% of the time for the undis- the time periods respectively and when gusts were con- turbed delta surface at AD2 and 13% of the time for the sidered, the threshold was exceeded approximately 15% undisturbed surface at AD3. When maximum gusts are and 18% of the time respectively. The mean u* for exc considered, the frequencies of exceedance for threshold WB was significantly lower than that for EB (p = 0.0112). wind speed for PM entrainment approximately double. At EB, the 2 m 15-min mean wind speed that would ex- Only the AD3 disturbed site had 2 m U values low ceed the threshold for NAAQS levels would occur less maxQ enough that gusts have exceeded this wind speed more than 0.01% of the time and for WB approximately 0.16% than once or twice in the last five years but this is a not- of the time and for gusts the threshold would be able artefact of early test terminations to protect the op- exceeded 0.03% and 1.37% of the time respectively. In tical bench of the nephelometer. spite of the significantly lower u* for WB, the mean exc Naturally crusted (undisturbed) spots at site AD2 had u*max for WB, although much more variable, was not lower emission rates and totals than the undisturbed significantly lower than the mean for EB (p = 0.3847). Al- spots at AD1 and AD3. However, the ephemerally though the mean maximum PM flux rate for WB was flooded furrows had emission rates and totals an order more than twice that for EB, high variance at both sites of magnitude smaller than the naturally crusted surfaces. precluded any significance in the difference (p = 0.2202). These furrows had highly indurate polygonal crusts very More side of the playa effect was found for the mean similar to the ephemeral lakebeds. Although it was less total flux of PM (TotQ) in which the mean total for evident with the disturbed site tests, there is a limitation WB is nearly four times that for EB (p = 0.0589). The of PM supply in the soils of the Animas Creek delta. primary test response difference between EB and WB This is shown in Fig. 5 by a drop of emission rate follow- was that the tests conducted at WB did not exhibit any ing each local maximum as the RPM and resulting shear apparent supply limitation (Fig. 6) and maintained their force on the surface caused by the PI-SWERL rotating emission rates until the RPM and resultant shear stress ring was increased and then held steady. of the PI-SWERL rotating ring increased to the next Playa beach deposits at the eastern (EB) and western level and was held. At EB, supply limitation was appar- (WB) ends of the pipeline service road that bisects the ent at lower values of friction velocity at the early time large playa surface just north of the highway were tested steps of the test and only overcame supply limitation at and found to be highly emissive, especially the WB. The higher values of friction velocity. Like many of the test u* means of these sites were not significantly different surfaces on the Animas Creek delta, the spots tested at (p = 0.6630) and were about the same as those found for WB also had a mean value of u* that, when converted exc undisturbed surfaces in the Animas Creek delta but ex- to 2 m wind speed equivalents, was also less than gale hibited greater variance. The 2 m 15-min mean wind force. Events with 2 m wind speeds in excess of gale speeds exceeded the estimated threshold for PM Fig. 6 PI-SWERL test response curve showing no PM supply limitations once threshold friction velocity (u* ) has been exceeded. Fig. 5 PI-SWERL test response curve showing PM supply The dashed line represents the friction velocity (u*) and the solid limitations. The dashed line represents the friction velocity (u*) and line is the instantaneous vertical flux of PM . This test was from the the solid line is the instantaneous vertical flux of PM . This test was western beach area (WPL) from an area that is ephemerally flooded (L) Van Pelt et al. Geoenvironmental Disasters (2020) 7:34 Page 10 of 12 force for extended periods of time are rare at inland wind tunnel tests on another playa in southern New mountainous locations. Thus, most of the dust entrained Mexico (Baddock et al. 2011b) and it would likely do so will, with the exception of gusts or short periods in at Lordsburg Playa. Lordsburg Playa has been closed by which strong pressure gradients are being equilibrated, the United States Bureau of Land Management to off- be entrained with less than gale force velocities. highway vehicle use since 1998 ‘to reduce impacts to the The two sites tested that represent the ephemerally soil on the Lordsburg Playa. Once the soil surface is dis- flooded lakebed included the small Road Forks Playa turbed, it is highly susceptible to wind erosion’ (United (RFP) just south of the highway near the western edge of States Department of the Interior 1998). Observations of the Lordsburg Playa and a site north of the pipeline ac- the authors and New Mexico state employees suggest cess road very near the center of the northern half of the that unauthorized crust crushing off-road recreational large Kathrine Playa (PC). At the RFP test site, four vehicle use still takes place on the playa surface. Rigor- ephemerally flooded surfaces were tested and one that ous monitoring and enforcement of this prohibition had a mantle of aeolian sand that we classed as a beach should be increased, since even a small area of disturbed type surface. At the PC test site, nine tests were con- playa in the wrong place and an unfortunate gust of ducted. Values of mean observed u* were more than wind could initiate a dust plume crossing the highway 50% greater than for the beach and delta deposits. The and dangerously reducing visibility. tests conducted on the ephemerally flooded surface at Mitigation of the visibility hazard on Interstate High- RFP did not result in a value of u* that would have way 10 caused by the current active dust emission exc exceeded the NAAQS standard for PM . From weather sources will require considerable expense for revegeta- station data, the 2 m 15-min mean wind speed would tion and disruption to agricultural activities in the im- have exceeded the threshold for PM entrainment at mediate region. The dust sources occur on a spatial the RFP and PC test sites 2.3% and 0.02% of the time re- matrix of state, federal, and private land, with each type spectively and considering gusts, the frequencies would of ownership having unique legal and management con- increase to 8.3% and 0.6% of the time respectively. siderations. Grazing leases on public land may be retired At the PC site near the center of the playa, only one of by the managing agencies, but privately held land will the nine replicate test spots resulted in a NAAQS standard probably still be used for grazing with little restriction. exceedance for PM in a 30 m column of atmosphere and Much of the publicly-owned lands are leased to local that value was near the maximum of friction velocities re- landowners to supplement the grazing land they use for corded during all phases of testing at all sites. The 2 m their livestock. The loss of these additional lands will re- − 1 equivalent wind speed would have exceeded 23 m s ,and sult in a financial hardship to these producers that can- this wind speed was only exceeded by maximum gusts not be easily mitigated. In a similar way, prohibition of twice in the five years of record. The mean value of u* off-road vehicle use may be mandated on public land, max for these surfaces was slightly lower than that noted for but enforcement of the mandate will not be without the other two surface types and had greater variance. The problems including the landowner access to private land mean maximum vertical flux of PM from ephemerally inholdings (otherwise surrounded by state and federal − 2 − 1 flooded surfaces was less than 500 μgm s and the land). Although these changes to land use will create mean total PM flux during the nine-minute test was less negative economic impacts to the local agricultural com- − 2 than 37 mg m . munity, the costs will pale in comparison with the costs Although the ephemerally flooded lacustrine deposits of loss of property, life, health and safety, and disruption occupy the predominant surface area in the complex of the transportation infrastructure that is currently in- Lordsburg Playa landscape, at least during our March herent with the visibility related crashes on Interstate 2018 testing, they exhibited lower PM emissivities than Highway 10 at Lordsburg Playa. Costs exceeding US $ 1 would be necessary to obscure visibility along Interstate million may be estimated per loss of human life related Highway 10. This is due to the limited abrader material to medical care, emergency services, productivity over a on the surface. Sand from beach areas or massive coarse lifetime, insurance, workplace costs, and legal costs sediment flows saltating downslope and downwind (Blincoe et al. 2015). A simple calculation of economic across large areas of the indurate clay-rich crust or dis- costs alone in terms of financial impacts cannot take turbance by crust crushing activities such as off-road ve- into account the effects on others, including family and hicle traffic or cattle grazing could potentially change friends who depend on that person for physical support, this situation. One of the limitations of the PI-SWERL is emotional support, and quality of life. the inability to introduce abrader sand and this limita- tion may have limited PM emission observations. The Conclusions trampling of crusts by the movement of cattle was dem- Lordsburg Playa in New Mexico, USA is representative onstrated to increase dust emissions during controlled of playa (dry lakebed) environments in many desert Van Pelt et al. Geoenvironmental Disasters (2020) 7:34 Page 11 of 12 regions where windblown dust emissions create traffic L: Lacustrine deposits in ephemerally flooded areas of the playa, usually clay- rich and highly indurated; MaxQ: The greatest 1 s vertical flux of PM during safety and crash hazards, and a priority site for environ- a PI-SWERL test, an index of surface emissivity; NAAQS: U.S. Environmental mental remediation to improve highway safety and re- Protection Agency National Ambient Air Quality Standards; NMDOT: New duce detour-related delays and losses. We tested the Mexico Department of Transportation; NRCS: U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service; PC: PI-SWERL test site near the surface emissivity characteristics at sites representing center of the ephemerally flooded playa; PI-SWERL: Portable In-Situ Wind different landscape positions, sedimentology, manage- ERosion Laboratory; PM : Particles with diameters less than ten micrometers; ment histories, and surface crust disturbance at Lords- PSD: Particle Size Distribution; RFP: PI-SWERL test site at the Road Forks Playa, an ephemerally flooded surface south of Interstate Highway 10; burg Playa using a PI-SWERL. A wide range of values SAS: Statistical Analysis Software published by the SAS Institute; TotQ: The for threshold friction velocity, friction velocity at which total PM10 vertical flux produced during the 540 s PI-SWERL test; u*: Friction the National Ambient Air Quality Standard would be velocity; u* : Friction velocity at which sufficient PM vertical flux was exc 10 measured to exceed NAAQS; u* : Friction velocity at which the greatest max exceeded in a 30 m column of air (representing forma- vertical flux of PM was measured; u* : Threshold friction velocity, the 10 t tion of a dust cloud), PM (fine dust) vertical flux rates, friction velocity at which vertical flux of PM10 was initiated; WB: PI-SWERL and total PM vertical flux during the nine minute test test site at the west end of Pipeline Road (a beach deposit) were indicative of the complexity of the surfaces en- Disclaimers countered in the immediate vicinity of Lordsburg Playa. Mention of trade names is for informational purposes only and does not We also found that the critical friction velocities and infer endorsement by nor exclusion of other similar products by the United States Department of Agriculture or other agencies supporting this work. emissivities were not strongly dependent on the surface The United States Department of Agriculture is an equal opportunity sediment texture but were highly dependent on surface employer and provider. crust strength, thickness, and disturbance. From our data, we concluded that the actual lake bed Authors’ contributions RSVP and TEG conceived the investigation; TEG provided funding of UTEP surface is not strongly dust-emissive when intact even personnel; JT and JL provided equipment; RSVP, JT, CC, IE, and MM when dry, but the shoreline margins or beach areas and performed field investigations; RSVP and JT curated the data, RSVP analyzed areas of the Animas Creek delta are highly dust-emissive the data; IE analyzed the PSD of surface sediments, the threshold wind speed frequencies and provided images used for Figs. 1, 2, 3 and 4; RSVP and should be the focus areas of management to miti- wrote the original draft; all authors reviewed and edited the manuscript in gate wind erodibility including limiting disturbance and its current form. The authors acknowledge the help of Dr. John E. Strack for augmenting native sediment trapping vegetation when curating and plotting the data so that threshold friction velocities could be fit. The authors read and approved the final manuscript. possible. The western shoreline of the playa was the most emissive of the sites tested and was one of the few Funding areas without dust supply limitation even though the Support is acknowledged for various parts of this work from grants surface sediments contain by far the lowest percentage NNX16AH13G and 80NSSC19K0195 from NASA and Project UTEP-01-13 from the Center for Advancing Research in Transportation Emissions, Energy, and of PM ; this is likely due in part to legacy sediment Health (CARTEEH), a U.S. Department of Transportation University Transporta- control structures (dams and berms) on the slopes above tion Center. the playa which are failing and releasing pulses of debris onto the western playa surface. For these reasons, this Availability of data and materials The authors will provide the data upon request. area should be a priority for dust emission control mea- sures followed by areas on the Animas Creek delta that Competing interests develop more fragile crusts. In order to improve highway The authors have no conflict of interest or completing interest with any safety and reduce the risk of continued visibility-related entity responsible for management of the Lordsburg Playa. crashes and shutdowns, the playa should be carefully Author details monitored for and protected against activities that dis- 1 USDA Agricultural Research Service, 302 W. Interstate 20, Big Spring, TX, 2 3 turb the crust and increase dust emissions. Plans are USA. USDA Agricultural Research Service, Ft. Collins, CO, USA. Department of Geological Sciences, and Environmental Science & Engineering Program, currently being considered for remediation of the dust University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, TX, USA. Hebei Normal University, sources on and near the Lordsburg Playa (Botkin and 5 Shijiazhuang, Hebei, P. R. China. Department of Geosciences, The University Hutchinson 2020). It is hoped that by identifying the of Tulsa, Tulsa, OK, USA. Environmental Science and Engineering Program, University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, TX, USA. Department of Geological most emissive sources, priority areas can be identified Sciences, University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, TX, USA. that will rapidly result in mitigation of the dust visibility hazard along this section of Interstate Highway 10. 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Dust emission source characterization for visibility hazard assessment on Lordsburg Playa in Southwestern New Mexico, USA

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Springer Journals
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Copyright © The Author(s) 2020
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2197-8670
DOI
10.1186/s40677-020-00171-x
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Abstract

In drylands around the world, ephemeral lakes (playas) are common. Dry, wind-erodible playa sediments are potent local and regional sources of dust and PM (airborne particles with diameters less than 10 μm). Dust clouds often cause sudden and/or prolonged loss of visibility to travelers on downwind roadways. Lordsburg Playa, in southwestern New Mexico, USA is bisected by Interstate Highway 10. Dust storms emanating from the playa have been responsible for numerous visibility-related road closures (including 39 road closures between 2012 and 2019) causing major economic losses, in addition to well over a hundred dust-related vehicle crashes causing at least 41 lost lives in the last 53 years. In order to improve understanding of the surfaces responsible for the dust emissions, we investigated the critical wind friction velocity thresholds and the dust emissivities of surfaces representing areas typical of Lordsburg Playa’s stream deltas, shorelines, and ephemerally flooded lakebed using a Portable In-Situ Wind ERosion Laboratory − 1 (PI-SWERL). Mean threshold friction velocities for PM entrainment ranged from less than 0.30 m s for areas in the − 1 delta and shoreline to greater than 0.55 m s for ephemerally flooded areas of the lakebed. Similarly, we quantified − 2 − 1 mean PM vertical flux rates ranging from less than 500 μgm s for ephemerally flooded areas of lakebed to nearly − 2 − 1 25,000 μgm s for disturbed delta surfaces. The unlimited PM supply of the relatively coarse sediments along the western shoreline is problematic and indicates that this may be the source area for longer-term visibility reducing dust events and should be a focus area for dust mitigation efforts. Keywords: PM , Dust storms, Visibility, Highway safety, Surface emissivity, Wind erosion Introduction and background state line. According to Botkin and Hutchinson (2020), at Semiarid and arid regions of the world are disproportion- least 120 dust events affected the Lordsburg Playa during ate sources of windblown sand (Pye and Tsoar 2009)and the eight years from 2012 to early 2020. Lordsburg Playa dust aerosols (Prospero et al. 2002; Zobeck and Van Pelt is not only one of the sources of the most intense dust 2006). Playas (dry or intermittently-wetted lake beds in in- storms in the Chihuahuan Desert (Rivera-Rivera et al. ternal drainage basins), being flat, windswept, and unvege- 2010), but is also crossed by Interstate Highway 10 (Fig. 1), tated, are prominent source areas of dust storms globally the southernmost transcontinental highway in the Ameri- (Prospero et al. 2002) including the Chihuahuan Desert of can Interstate Highway System, and a major transporta- southwest North America (Baddock et al. 2011a, 2011b). tion artery extending from Florida to California. One such playa is Lordsburg Playa in Hidalgo County, Approximately 15,000 vehicles per day, about 30% of southwestern New Mexico, USA, just east of the Arizona which were trucks, crossed the playa on Interstate High- way 10in2016(Haas 2017). The Union Pacific railroad crosses Lordsburg Playa parallel to and approximately 30 * Correspondence: scott.vanpelt@usda.gov USDA Agricultural Research Service, 302 W. Interstate 20, Big Spring, TX, USA m north of the interstate. Full list of author information is available at the end of the article © The Author(s). 2020 Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/. Van Pelt et al. Geoenvironmental Disasters (2020) 7:34 Page 2 of 12 Fig. 1 Satellite image of Lordsburg Playa dissected by Interstate 10 showing the locations (green diamonds) of surfaces that were tested with the PI-SWERL as listed in Table 1 and the NMDOT weather stations (NM003 and NM004) (yellow diamonds) According to the World Health Organization (2018), together increase the likelihood for loss of vehicle con- traffic crashes are the ninth leading cause of death trol and collisions. Goudie (2014), searched newspaper worldwide. In the United States, on average, the annual clippings for 12 consecutive months in the period of death toll from motor vehicle crashes due to weather re- 2012 to 2013, reported that dust-related fatal highway lated visibility and vision hazards such as fog, smoke, crashes happened in six states of the U.S. in a single dust, and blowing sand, exceeds the number of fatalities year. Numerous case reports have been published of caused by other weather-related hazards including tor- blowing and drifting dust and sand causing highway nados, floods, tropical cyclones, and lightning (Ashley crashes, especially multi-vehicle incidents on high-speed et al. 2015; Bhattachan et al. 2019). Due to the arid cli- roads including interstate highways (Pauley et al. 1996; mate of the Chihuahuan Desert, fog, the most common Laity 2003; Goudie 2014; Deetz et al. 2016; Nicoll et al. weather phenomenon affecting highway visibility (Ashley 2020). The U.S. National Weather Service reported that et al. 2015) is rare in the Lordsburg basin. dust events are the third largest weather-related cause of Windblown (aeolian) dust and sand crossing transpor- highway casualties in the state of Arizona, resulting in at tation corridors in drylands is increasingly recognized as least 157 fatalities and 1324 injuries statewide in 50 years a direct threat to human health and safety (Goudie 2014; (Lader et al. 2016). Baddock et al. 2013; Middleton 2017; Li et al. 2017; Lordsburg Playa is the only dust-emitting playa Zheng-chao 2018; Bhattachan et al. 2019; Davari et al. crossed by an interstate highway in the southwest USA, 2019). Dust and sand blowing across roadways causes although ~ 1000 km north of Lordsburg, Interstate High- sudden loss of visibility (Ashley et al. 2015) and reduced way 80 crosses the playa of Great Salt Lake, Utah and traction on the road surface (Davari et al. 2019), and has been the location of fatal dust-related traffic wrecks Van Pelt et al. Geoenvironmental Disasters (2020) 7:34 Page 3 of 12 (Nicoll et al. 2020). Plumes of airborne dust and sand or detours on major transportation corridors caused by crossing the highway close to their source (Fig. 2) there- dust storms cause significant economic losses as well as fore represent an immediate hazard to roadway traffic health and safety hazards. Only a few studies have pro- due to sudden loss of visibility and resulting driver dis- vided an in-depth analysis on the occurrence of such orientation (Ashley et al. 2015; Li et al. 2017). The au- events, and little information is available to highway thors are not aware of any individual stretch of road in managers on the mitigation and management of this the southwest United States having a greater dust hazard hazard (Li et al. 2017). than Interstate Highway 10 across Lordsburg Playa, Interstate Highway 10 across Lordsburg Playa was where at least 117 dust/wind-related traffic crashes were closed to traffic for dust-related safety reasons at least recorded by public safety authorities between 1980 and 39 times between 2012 and 2019 (Botkin and Hutchin- 2017 (New Mexico Department of Transportation 2018). son 2020). When the highway is closed, vehicles must ei- In these crashes, at least 41 dust-related traffic fatalities ther wait potentially for hours until weather conditions have occurred since 1965, including 21 deaths since abate, or detour 172 km and an additional > 2 h travel 2012; seven persons were killed in one dust event in time onto two-lane secondary roads not designed for May 2014 and ten killed in 4 dust events during 2017 heavy truck traffic (ADOT 2019), causing economic (Associated Press 2017; Botkin and Hutchinson 2020). losses not only via increased travel time and other logis- Dust and sand blowing across highways not only con- tical delays, but also by damaging pavement and bridges stitutes a direct health and safety hazard, it also causes on the structurally-weaker alternate routes. In order to significant economic impacts. A single traffic fatality was facilitate the detour’s increased traffic flow during high estimated to cost US $1.38 million in 2010 dollars when wind events and make this route safer, the Arizona medical care, emergency services, productivity over a Department of Transportation (ADOT) is planning to lifetime, insurance, workplace costs, and legal costs were spend nearly US $60 million (ADOT 2019). The New considered (Blincoe et al. 2015). Beyond healthcare- Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT) has related costs from crashes, aeolian dust and sand cross- spent nearly US $2 million in recent years (Trent Botkin, ing highways disrupts and delays transportation and de- NMDOT, personal communication) to study and miti- livery of goods, services, and people, increases costs for gate the dust threat. Meanwhile other agencies including highway maintenance and deployment of public safety the U.S. Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Bur- personnel, and causes significant property damage; thus, eau of Land Management (BLM), USDA Natural Re- it is a significant “off-site” cost of wind erosion (Pimentel sources Conservation Service (NRCS), and other et al. 1995: Baddock et al. 2013). The US Federal High- agencies and contractors have joined with both states’ way Administration (FHWA) (2005) notes that commer- departments of transportation, working diligently to- cial shippers and carriers value transit time at $25 to gether to attempt to mitigate this hazard with $200 per hour, depending on the value and perishability engineering-based and biological (vegetation-based) dust of the product being carried, so weather-related delays control approaches. Fig. 2 Dust clouds blowing across Interstate Highway 10 on Lordsburg Playa while the highway is open to automobile and truck traffic, March 22, 2016 Van Pelt et al. Geoenvironmental Disasters (2020) 7:34 Page 4 of 12 We initiated this study to quantify the dust emissivities cryptandrus (Torr.) Gray) and ring muhly (Muhlenbergia of likely potential dust source surfaces surrounding and torreyi (Kunth) Hitchc.) in well drained sandier areas within the Lordsburg Playa. To accomplish this objective above the shoreline. Following closure of several mining we used accepted instrumentation and methodologies to districts in the Lordsburg basin during the early twenti- directly measure dust emissions for many representative eth century, livestock grazing is the primary land use in surfaces at increasing friction velocities. With this know- the surrounding area. ledge, land managers both public and private in partner- We conducted tests on surface dust emissivity using a ship with transportation authorities may be able to Portable In-Situ Wind ERosion Laboratory (PI-SWERL) prioritize areas for control to mitigate future dust out- (Etyemezian et al. 2007) in March 2018. The PI-SWERL is a breaks, thus protecting human health and safety and re- computer-controlled aspirated cylindrical chamber approxi- ducing economic impacts of blowing dust and sand. mately 30 cm in diameter that entrains dust by rotating a metallic ring a few centimeters above the soil surface, creat- Methods and materials ing the shear stress necessary to entrain loose particles. The − 1 Lordsburg Playa comprises several intermittently con- cylindrical chamber is aspirated with 1.67 l s of filtered air nected ephemerally flooded dry lakebeds in the northern and a portion of the exhaust is continuously drawn into a part of the Animas Basin within the Basin and Range DustTrak, a fast response nephelometer (Model 8530, TSI physiographic province and the northwestern Chihuahuan Instruments, Shoreview, Minnesota, USA) to measure PM Desert ecoregion. These dry lakebeds represent the bot- (airborne particles with diameter smaller than 10 μm) con- tom of Pleistocene Lake Animas (Allen 2005). The lakes centrations. The PI-SWERL has been shown to provide data are the termination of drainage from the Pyramid Moun- on dust emissions and surface erodibilities very similar to a tains, the south and west slopes of Burro Peak, the eastern larger linear wind tunnel (Sweeney et al. 2008)and has slopes of the Peloncillo Mountains, and the west and proven useful for estimating dust emissivities at other playas north slopes of the Animas Mountains. The largest and including Yellow Lake, Texas (Sweeney et al. 2016), the southernmost of the dry lake beds is sometimes named Salton Sea, California (King et al. 2011), and several playa Kathrine Playa, and is the lakebed through which U.S. surfaces in Namibia (Von Holdt et al. 2019). Interstate Highway 10 traverses. The altitude of the For tests on the Lordsburg Playa surfaces, we set the lakebed is approximately 1263 m above mean sea level PI-SWERL on a surface typical of the surrounding area and the climate is arid with approximately 30 cm of aver- (Fig. 3) and initiated a nine-minute (540 s) hybrid test age annual precipitation more than half of which typically (Table 1). The hybrid PI-SWERL test intervals and falls during the North American Monsoon between July RPMs were determined in preliminary tests (unpub- and September. Five months of the year have average lished) on a wide variety of soil surfaces throughout the maximum temperatures in excess of 30 C with June, the US to provide consistency for comparisons among hottest month, having an average maximum of 35 C. Soils in the Lordsburg Playa basin are classified pri- marily as aridisols of the Hondale series (Fine, mixed, superactive, Thermic Natargid) in the Animas Creek delta and along the western shoreline, Playas series (Fine, mixed, superactive, Sodic Haplocambid) in the ephemerally flooded lakebed, and small areas of vertisols of the Verhalen silty clay loam series (Fine, smectitic, thermic Typic Haplotorrerts) on the eastern shoreline. Although the playa surface is saline and alkaline with oc- casional salt efflorescences (puffy growths of evaporite minerals on the surface) (Reynolds et al. 2007), the sur- face sediments are comprised of primary silicate and clay minerals with lower concentrations of evaporites (salt minerals) than many other dust-emitting playas in North America (Hibbs et al. 2000; Mitroo et al. 2019). Vegetation of the area is typical of the lower elevation Chihuahuan Desert with dominant shrubs such as sev- eral species of saltbush (Atriplex spp.) and seablight (Suaeda nigrescens I.M. Johnst) with alkali sacaton (Spor- Fig. 3 PI-SWERL in test configuration on an undisturbed surface at obolus airoides (Torr.) Torr.) as the dominant grass in the eastern beach area (EPL) the saline areas and sand dropseed (Sporobolus Van Pelt et al. Geoenvironmental Disasters (2020) 7:34 Page 5 of 12 various studies and locations. The hybrid test uses a applicable to playa soils due possibly to the presence of combination of both ramps and steps during a single soluble salts. measurement. The hybrid test was chosen over a con- From PI-SWERL data, friction velocities, u* (a measure tinual RPM ramp because It identifies surfaces that of shear-related motion in moving fluids that may result are not supply limited. Similar hybrid tests have been in vertical entrainment of particles) were obtained at a used for previous studies (Kavouras et al. 2009;Etye- frequency of 1 Hz by regressing the rotating ring RPM mezian et al. 2014; Fick et al. 2019). Following test vs Irwin sensor measured friction velocity data provided initiation, the PI-SWERL was controlled by and all in the PI-SWERL Operator Manual v1.3 Fig. 1.2 (Dust- test data, including data from the DustTrak, was Quant 2011) and entering the instantaneous rotating logged in an imbedded computer. Test operation data ring RPM into the resulting regression eq. PI-SWERL was monitored real-time and the test discontinued to estimates of threshold friction velocity u* (the friction protect the optical bench of the DustTrak if the PM velocity at which particles will become entrained in the − 3 concentration exceeded 400 mg m . fluid) were not simple; we almost always saw an initial Seven sites in the Lordsburg Playa basin (Fig. 1) were spike in PM concentration both when the airflow tested with the PI-SWERL and at least four replicates started during the first few seconds of the test and again were conducted on fresh surfaces at each of the sites. at the first few seconds of rotating ring acceleration to Three of the sites were located on delta deposits on the 2000 RPM. This spike phenomenon is possibly due to vi- fringe of the playa associated with Animas Creek south bration within the PI-SWERL at startup, dislodging par- of Interstate Highway 10 and represented land used for ticles within the system. Under both these test phases, cattle grazing designated as sites AD1, AD2, and AD3. we saw the PM concentrations fall to near pre-test Two of the sites had thick, hard, clay-rich lacustrine sed- levels within 30 s after the initial spike. We visually de- iments that dried into indurate crusts of distinct poly- termined the u* by inspecting the PM concentration t 10 gons designated sites RFP and PC. Finally, two of the curve to determine when the fresh PM was being sites were shoreline (beach) areas at the eastern and entrained from the ground surface. PM emissivity western margins of the lakebed designated as sites EB expressed as mass per unit time per unit area was calcu- and WB, respectively. At each replicated test location, lated by dividing the instrument-determined vertical flux − 1 2 GPS coordinates were recorded, approximately 100 g of rate data (μgs ) by the 0.026 m effective area of the the 0–5 cm surface sediment was sampled, and the sur- rotating ring. face threshold friction velocity (u* ) was estimated using The 2 m mean wind velocity that would result in an the airgun and penetrometer technique of Li et al. exceedance of the United States EPA National Ambient − 3 (2010). Where both undisturbed and disturbed (cattle Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for PM of 150 μgm tracks or vehicle tire tracks) surfaces were sampled for a – representing a visibility-reducing dust cloud - was cal- total of 44 tests, GPS coordinates and soil samples were culated by taking the measured PM concentration in obtained. Estimates of u* using the airgun and pene- the PI-SWERL that would result in a 30 m mixed col- trometer technique were terminated after 37 tests due to umn of air with PM that would equal or exceed the airgun malfunction. Analysis of collected airgun and PM NAAQS. The height of the inside of the bell of the penetrometer data revealed that this method may not be PI-SWERL is 20 cm. The 30 m height for mixing was Table 1 Summary of the hybrid PI-SWERL test used to assess surface dust emissivities and threshold friction velocities Cumulative Test Time (s) Interval Time (s) Operation 0–540 540 Aspirate PI-SWERL bell and record PM concentration 0–60 60 No ring movement 61–105 45 Accelerate ring to 2000 RPM 106–165 60 Maintain ring at 2000 RPM 166–210 45 Accelerate ring to 3000 RPM 211–270 60 Maintain ring at 3000 RPM 271–315 45 Accelerate ring to 4000 RPM 316–375 60 Maintain ring at 4000 RPM 376–420 45 Accelerate ring to 5000 RPM 421–480 60 Maintain ring at 5000 RPM 481–540 60 Decelerate ring to 0 RPM Van Pelt et al. Geoenvironmental Disasters (2020) 7:34 Page 6 of 12 arbitrarily chosen as it is quite possible in turbulence for parameters and surface factors including soil texture and PM to mix to this height. Thus, by multiplying the %PM was performed in Microsoft Excel graphs by fit- 10 10 NAAQS standard by 150 times the inside depth of the ting trendlines, linear equations, and R values for the bell from which dust measurements were obtained, the relationships. concentration inside the bell must be at least 22.5 mg − 3 m for this value to be reached or exceeded. The fric- Results and discussion tion velocity calculated for this 1 s time step was subse- Mean GPS locations, as well as means and standard de- quently entered into Prandtl’s equation using 0.4 for von viations of surface sand, silt, clay, and PM percentages Karman’s Constant and a mean value from several of each site are presented in Table 2. Although some soil − 5 sources of 2 X 10 m for the roughness length of a bare PSD variation is evident among the sites, the soil at the smooth surface to obtain the expected mean wind speed west beach site stands out as having much sandier ma- at 2 m. Wind speed is nearly universally reported at the terial and much lower content of PM than any of the standard reported height of 2 m. This would be the others. The western edge of Lordsburg Playa is close to mean reported wind speed at which the PM NAAQS the Peloncillo Mountains and several small drainages would be exceeded over similar surfaces. The same cal- empty as alluvial fans directly onto the playa surface culation based on Prandtl’s equation was used to esti- from relatively steep terrain. In addition to the nearby mate the 2 m threshold wind speed for PM steep terrain and resulting coarse sediment transport on entrainment. It should be noted that these wind speeds the west side of the playa, close examination of aerial are based on a smoother bare surface as tested by the photography, satellite images, and discussions with local PI-SWERL and due to vegetation surrounding the bare land managers (Trent Botkin, NMDOT, personal com- surfaces that were tested, the actual threshold wind munication) has revealed that the dams of several small, speeds would probably be greater than the values fit. decades-old impoundments related to mining and cattle Weather data were collected from two NMDOT wea- grazing on the mountain slopes have been breached. ther stations located along Interstate Highway 10 on the These impoundments filled with sediment over time and lakebed (Fig. 1). The stations were established on July when their dams breached during seasonal rains, massive 22, 2015 and record 15-min wind speed means and max- coarse sediment flows were often formed which in this imum gust. These data, an average of 35,064 observa- area have flowed far onto the lakebed surface (Fig. 4). tions per year, were compared to the estimated Prior systematic analyses of remote sensing imagery have threshold wind speeds for PM entrainment, exceed- suggested that these zones of contact between coarse ance of the USEPA NAAQS, and the wind speed at sediments and fine playa materials play an enhanced role which the maximum dust entrainment was observed Table 2 Mean and standard deviation of longitude, latitude, during the PI-SWERL to estimate the percentage of ob- percent sand, silt, clay and PM for the surface sediment servations exceeding these values. The last date of data samples at the test sites considered was July 1, 2020. Site (Surface Longitude Latitude Sand Silt Clay PM The particle size distribution (PSD) of the surface soil Class) Degrees W Degrees N % % % % at each site was measured by laser diffraction spectros- AD1 (D) Mean 108.854 32.255 17.79 69.2 12.29 41.30 copy, generally following the procedures of Sperazza St. Dev. 1.91 E-5 8.64 E-5 1.01 1.10 0.50 1.36 et al. (2004). Soil samples were passed through a 2 mm AD2 (D) Mean 108.868 32.254 28.64 57.42 13.94 42.25 sieve to remove any gravel or plant debris and 0.2 to 0.6 St. Dev. 3.86 E-5 3.47 E-5 4.94 4.16 3.16 7.40 g of the sieved sample was dispersed in 11.5 ml of a so- AD3 (D) Mean 108.878 32.267 18.01 70.10 11.90 45.24 dium hexametaphosphate solution. The 15 ml tubes con- St. Dev. 8.03 E-5 5.4 E-5 1.08 1.29 1.32 3.41 taining the dispersed sample were shaken for 8 h before AD2 (L) Mean 108.868 32.254 30.66 57.16 12.18 37.57 introduction to the Malvern Mastersizer 2000 (Malvern St. Dev. 1.04 E-4 3.98 E-5 5.37 7.05 1.67 2.62 Instruments, Worcestershire, UK) that had been cali- RFP (L) Mean 108.943 32.242 29.02 62.27 8.70 33.72 brated using 0.2 g of ISO 12103-1 A4 coarse test dust. St. Dev. 5.89 E-4 6.68 E-4 12.27 12.00 0.51 2.93 For each dispersed sample, three individual PSD deter- PC (L) Mean 108.908 32.322 17.52 54.62 27.85 57.73 minations were made and the means of each PSD class St. Dev. 3.18 E-4 2.47 E-4 3.88 1.95 2.81 4.55 was calculated. From these means, we determined the RFP (B) Mean 108.944 32.242 56.72 36.17 7.11 25.22 percentage of sand (53 < d < 2000 μm), silt (2 < d < St. Dev. -- -- -- -- -- -- 53 μm), clay (d < 2 μm), and PM (d < 10 μm) in each of EB (B) Mean 108.832 32.333 41.33 45.35 13.32 42.55 the soil samples. St. Dev. 1.65 E-4 7.11 E-5 7.13 6.13 1.70 7.06 Statistical analysis of the data was done using Proc WB (B) Mean 108.933 32.315 84.59 12.23 3.17 10.80 St. Dev 1.93 E-5 4.41 E-5 13.00 10.76 2.24 8.83 GLM in SAS v9.4. Means were separated using Ryan’s Q. Regression relationships between the response surface classes are D = Delta, L = Lake, and B = Beach Van Pelt et al. Geoenvironmental Disasters (2020) 7:34 Page 7 of 12 areas and their emission rates were also very similar. For this reason, we considered them to be ephemerally flooded and segregated them from the other tests at this site. In a similar manner, one of the tests at the Road Forks Playa (RFP), an isolated ephemerally flooded area where Interstate Highway 10 enters Lordsburg Playa from the west, was performed on a mantle of aeolian sand that resembled a beach deposit and so we classified that as a beach type surface. With these exceptions, the replicate spots in each site were very uniform in surface characteristics and all PI-SWERL test derived data were used to calculate the means presented in Table 3. Weather data indicated that March, April, and May have greater 15-min mean wind speeds than the other months. This is very typical of the spring winds in southwestern North America and represents the season with the greatest number of synoptic dust storms cover- ing large areas. When gusts are considered, however, fre- quencies of exceedance for the threshold wind speeds increase for all months, especially during June, July, and August, months in which afternoon convective storms may form. In general, December, January, February, and Fig. 4 Aerial photograph of area on the west of Lordsburg Playa showing erosional head cutting in the left portions of the picture September are the months with the calmest winds. and subsequent deposition of eroded sediment on the playa surface Surface physical characteristics at the test sites such as in the right-hand portions of the image texture, structure, and the presence or absence of an un- disturbed crust had a significant impact on u* (p < in initiating dust storms in the Chihuahuan Desert due 0.0001), but not u* (p = 0.1658) or u* (p = 0.7975). exc max to the ability of the coarse sandy materials to saltate PM emissions on the other hand were greatly affected (hop in the wind) with resultant sandblasting of the by surface physical characteristics with the mean MaxQ finer, wind-entrainable lacustrine sediments (Rivera-Ri- of the beach deposits being more than 2 times that of vera et al. 2010). undisturbed delta soil surfaces whose mean MaxQ was Test site surface type, disturbance class, as well as fric- in turn over an order of magnitude greater than the tion velocities at threshold (u* ), NAAQS exceedance ephemerally flooded lacustrine deposits (p = 0.0018). (u* ), and maximum PM flux (u* ), as well as the Similarly, the TotQ during the test was highly influenced exc 10 max maximum vertical flux rate (MaxQ) and total PM flux by surface physical characteristics with the mean TotQ (TotQ) are presented in Table 3. In general, the sites we of beach deposits being over three times greater than the tested in the Animas Creek delta (D) and in the beach mean for undisturbed delta soil surfaces which had areas along the shorelines (B) were much more emissive mean TotQ of more than an order of magnitude greater based on MaxQ and TotQ than lakebed sites at RFP and than the mean for ephemerally flooded lacustrine de- PC that were ephemerally flooded (L). Specifically, the posits (p = 0.0003). undisturbed delta sites had MaxQ values between 3 and Although disturbance only influenced one of the u*, 7 times and TotQ values between 3 and 6 times the specifically u* , values significantly, it had a very sig- exc mean value for the ephemerally flooded sites. The dis- nificant effect on the maximum vertical flux of PM turbed sites had MaxQ values between 26 and 59 times (MaxQ) during the testing with disturbed sites having greater and TotQ values between 26 and 67 times the mean emission rates of nearly an order of magnitude mean value for the ephemerally flooded sites. Sites in greater than the undisturbed sites (p = 0.0131). Similarly, the delta to the south, AD1 and AD2, had apparently the total PM emitted by the disturbed sites was more been cultivated at some time in the past, but all were be- than an order of magnitude greater for the disturbed ing used for cattle grazing at the time of the field investi- sites than the undisturbed (p = 0.0266). These trends of gation. At one of the three sites, AD2, furrows had been increased PM emissions with soil crust disturbance are cut between the natural soil surface to hold water and, consistent with experimental findings at other wind hopefully, increase the survival of grass seedlings. The erodible playas (Cahill et al. 1996; Baddock et al. 2011b) surfaces of these furrow bottoms were very similar to and desert surfaces (Van Pelt et al. 2017; Klose et al. the hard crust polygons found in ephemerally flooded 2019) in the North American drylands, specifically Van Pelt et al. Geoenvironmental Disasters (2020) 7:34 Page 8 of 12 Table 3 Surface class (Delta, Lake, or Beach), disturbance class (Undisturbed or Disturbed), and mean and standard deviation of threshold friction velocity (u* ), friction velocity at which the NAAQS standard would be exceeded in a 30 m tall column of air (u* ), t exc friction velocity at which the maximum rate of PM vertical flux is observed (u* ), the maximum rate of PM10 vertical flux 10 maxQ observed (Max Q), and the total PM vertical flux for the nine minute PI-SWERL test (Tot Q) of each sample site −1 −1 −1 −2 − 1 −2 Site Surf. Class Disturb. Class u* (m s )u* (m s )u* (m s ) Max Q (μgm s ) Tot Q (μgm ) t exc maxQ AD1 D U Mean 0.31 0.80 0.81 1325.48 84,217 St. Dev. 0.02 0.02 0.00 919.87 69,106 AD1 D D Mean 0.31 0.62 0.81 11,030.94 845,554 St. Dev. 0.02 0.07 0.01 5498.17 5,168,485 AD2 D U Mean 0.26 0.74 0.80 3098.75 193,221 St. Dev. 0.05 0.12 0.02 2021.42 131,854 AD3 D U Mean 0.24 0.60 0.80 1248.26 999,201 St. Dev. 0.05 0.15 0.02 8697.52 832,504 AD3 D D Mean 0.31 0.50 0.68 24,977.63 2,226,249 St. Dev. 0.02 0.03 0.05 1778.07 682,823 AD2 L U Mean 0.31 -- 0.80 223.60 16,733 St. Dev. 0.01 -- 0.00 36.49 2287 RFP L U Mean 0.36 -- 0.81 476.06 45,648 St. Dev. 0.06 -- 0.00 406.79 77,958 PC L U Mean 0.56 0.81 0.80 561.84 36,857 St. Dev. 0.10 -- 0.02 717.75 49,034 RFP B U Mean 0.39 0.77 0.81 2450.36 288,993 St. Dev. -- -- -- -- -- EB B U Mean 0.30 0.72 0.81 7561.78 788,012 St. Dev. 0.10 0.08 0.00 12,282.01 1,266,773 WB B U Mean 0.28 0.50 0.80 17,182.49 2,727,300 St. Dev. 0.04 0.05 0.02 6844.97 1,084,141 including the effects of cattle activity (Baddock et al. disturbed (p = 0.0305). The mean values of u* for the exc 2011b) and off-highway vehicles (Goossens and Buck disturbed spots tested at AD1 and both undisturbed and 2009) in increasing dust emission through breakage of disturbed spots at AD3, when adjusted to 2 m wind surface crusts. The variance among disturbed sites for speed equivalents, were among very few with less than − 1 both these measures was much greater than for undis- gale force (< 17.5 m s ) velocities although frequencies turbed sites and thus we can state that undisturbed sites of exceedance during the five years of wind speed data were more predictable in their emission rates and total collection were only about 0.2% and 1.4%, respectively emissions than disturbed sites. This indicates the neces- for maximum wind gusts and much less than that for sity of limiting disturbance of natural dryland soil crusts 15-min means. The undisturbed surface crust at AD3 in land management plans for mitigating the dust haz- was very fragile and during a PI-SWERL test of these ard, especially in areas devoid of vegetation where aero- spots, it was not uncommon to see a very rapid rise in dynamic roughness lengths are very small. PM vertical flux rates. Such rapid increases would be In general, the three sites on the Animas Creek delta, consistent with the visual observation at the end of a test AD1, AD2, and AD3, had soils that were fine textured where the shear force had displaced a polygon of crust with shallow surface crusting. At site AD1, the move- and revealed easily entrainable sediments below, which ment of cattle along a fence line had disturbed the sur- has been noted as a key process threshold for increasing face very close to undisturbed PI-SWERL replicate test dust emission at other playas (Cahill et al. 1996). Dis- spots and we tested them as a subset of the site tests. turbance also did not significantly influence the friction Similarly, at site AD3, side by side undisturbed and tire- velocities at which the maximum vertical flux was ob- track-disturbed surfaces allowed us to assess the effects served, u* (p = 0.6491) although the variances of all max of crustal disturbance on PM emissions and related friction velocity values were much smaller for the undis- critical friction velocity parameters. We found no differ- turbed sites demonstrating the stabilizing influence of ences in u* related to disturbance of the soil crust at ei- soil crusting. We estimate from 15-min mean wind ther AD1 or AD3 (p = 0.9797) but the friction velocities speeds that the threshold wind speed at which PM en- − 3 at which the NAAQS standard of 150 μgm would be trainment would be initiated would be exceeded ap- exceeded in a 30 m atmospheric column, u* , was sig- proximately 5% of the time for sites at AD1, the Lakebed exc nificantly greater for undisturbed soil crusts than for surface at AD2, and the disturbed surface at AD3. Other Van Pelt et al. Geoenvironmental Disasters (2020) 7:34 Page 9 of 12 delta surface sites had higher frequencies of exceedance entrainment at EB and WB approximately 6% and 8% of including approximately 10% of the time for the undis- the time periods respectively and when gusts were con- turbed delta surface at AD2 and 13% of the time for the sidered, the threshold was exceeded approximately 15% undisturbed surface at AD3. When maximum gusts are and 18% of the time respectively. The mean u* for exc considered, the frequencies of exceedance for threshold WB was significantly lower than that for EB (p = 0.0112). wind speed for PM entrainment approximately double. At EB, the 2 m 15-min mean wind speed that would ex- Only the AD3 disturbed site had 2 m U values low ceed the threshold for NAAQS levels would occur less maxQ enough that gusts have exceeded this wind speed more than 0.01% of the time and for WB approximately 0.16% than once or twice in the last five years but this is a not- of the time and for gusts the threshold would be able artefact of early test terminations to protect the op- exceeded 0.03% and 1.37% of the time respectively. In tical bench of the nephelometer. spite of the significantly lower u* for WB, the mean exc Naturally crusted (undisturbed) spots at site AD2 had u*max for WB, although much more variable, was not lower emission rates and totals than the undisturbed significantly lower than the mean for EB (p = 0.3847). Al- spots at AD1 and AD3. However, the ephemerally though the mean maximum PM flux rate for WB was flooded furrows had emission rates and totals an order more than twice that for EB, high variance at both sites of magnitude smaller than the naturally crusted surfaces. precluded any significance in the difference (p = 0.2202). These furrows had highly indurate polygonal crusts very More side of the playa effect was found for the mean similar to the ephemeral lakebeds. Although it was less total flux of PM (TotQ) in which the mean total for evident with the disturbed site tests, there is a limitation WB is nearly four times that for EB (p = 0.0589). The of PM supply in the soils of the Animas Creek delta. primary test response difference between EB and WB This is shown in Fig. 5 by a drop of emission rate follow- was that the tests conducted at WB did not exhibit any ing each local maximum as the RPM and resulting shear apparent supply limitation (Fig. 6) and maintained their force on the surface caused by the PI-SWERL rotating emission rates until the RPM and resultant shear stress ring was increased and then held steady. of the PI-SWERL rotating ring increased to the next Playa beach deposits at the eastern (EB) and western level and was held. At EB, supply limitation was appar- (WB) ends of the pipeline service road that bisects the ent at lower values of friction velocity at the early time large playa surface just north of the highway were tested steps of the test and only overcame supply limitation at and found to be highly emissive, especially the WB. The higher values of friction velocity. Like many of the test u* means of these sites were not significantly different surfaces on the Animas Creek delta, the spots tested at (p = 0.6630) and were about the same as those found for WB also had a mean value of u* that, when converted exc undisturbed surfaces in the Animas Creek delta but ex- to 2 m wind speed equivalents, was also less than gale hibited greater variance. The 2 m 15-min mean wind force. Events with 2 m wind speeds in excess of gale speeds exceeded the estimated threshold for PM Fig. 6 PI-SWERL test response curve showing no PM supply limitations once threshold friction velocity (u* ) has been exceeded. Fig. 5 PI-SWERL test response curve showing PM supply The dashed line represents the friction velocity (u*) and the solid limitations. The dashed line represents the friction velocity (u*) and line is the instantaneous vertical flux of PM . This test was from the the solid line is the instantaneous vertical flux of PM . This test was western beach area (WPL) from an area that is ephemerally flooded (L) Van Pelt et al. Geoenvironmental Disasters (2020) 7:34 Page 10 of 12 force for extended periods of time are rare at inland wind tunnel tests on another playa in southern New mountainous locations. Thus, most of the dust entrained Mexico (Baddock et al. 2011b) and it would likely do so will, with the exception of gusts or short periods in at Lordsburg Playa. Lordsburg Playa has been closed by which strong pressure gradients are being equilibrated, the United States Bureau of Land Management to off- be entrained with less than gale force velocities. highway vehicle use since 1998 ‘to reduce impacts to the The two sites tested that represent the ephemerally soil on the Lordsburg Playa. Once the soil surface is dis- flooded lakebed included the small Road Forks Playa turbed, it is highly susceptible to wind erosion’ (United (RFP) just south of the highway near the western edge of States Department of the Interior 1998). Observations of the Lordsburg Playa and a site north of the pipeline ac- the authors and New Mexico state employees suggest cess road very near the center of the northern half of the that unauthorized crust crushing off-road recreational large Kathrine Playa (PC). At the RFP test site, four vehicle use still takes place on the playa surface. Rigor- ephemerally flooded surfaces were tested and one that ous monitoring and enforcement of this prohibition had a mantle of aeolian sand that we classed as a beach should be increased, since even a small area of disturbed type surface. At the PC test site, nine tests were con- playa in the wrong place and an unfortunate gust of ducted. Values of mean observed u* were more than wind could initiate a dust plume crossing the highway 50% greater than for the beach and delta deposits. The and dangerously reducing visibility. tests conducted on the ephemerally flooded surface at Mitigation of the visibility hazard on Interstate High- RFP did not result in a value of u* that would have way 10 caused by the current active dust emission exc exceeded the NAAQS standard for PM . From weather sources will require considerable expense for revegeta- station data, the 2 m 15-min mean wind speed would tion and disruption to agricultural activities in the im- have exceeded the threshold for PM entrainment at mediate region. The dust sources occur on a spatial the RFP and PC test sites 2.3% and 0.02% of the time re- matrix of state, federal, and private land, with each type spectively and considering gusts, the frequencies would of ownership having unique legal and management con- increase to 8.3% and 0.6% of the time respectively. siderations. Grazing leases on public land may be retired At the PC site near the center of the playa, only one of by the managing agencies, but privately held land will the nine replicate test spots resulted in a NAAQS standard probably still be used for grazing with little restriction. exceedance for PM in a 30 m column of atmosphere and Much of the publicly-owned lands are leased to local that value was near the maximum of friction velocities re- landowners to supplement the grazing land they use for corded during all phases of testing at all sites. The 2 m their livestock. The loss of these additional lands will re- − 1 equivalent wind speed would have exceeded 23 m s ,and sult in a financial hardship to these producers that can- this wind speed was only exceeded by maximum gusts not be easily mitigated. In a similar way, prohibition of twice in the five years of record. The mean value of u* off-road vehicle use may be mandated on public land, max for these surfaces was slightly lower than that noted for but enforcement of the mandate will not be without the other two surface types and had greater variance. The problems including the landowner access to private land mean maximum vertical flux of PM from ephemerally inholdings (otherwise surrounded by state and federal − 2 − 1 flooded surfaces was less than 500 μgm s and the land). Although these changes to land use will create mean total PM flux during the nine-minute test was less negative economic impacts to the local agricultural com- − 2 than 37 mg m . munity, the costs will pale in comparison with the costs Although the ephemerally flooded lacustrine deposits of loss of property, life, health and safety, and disruption occupy the predominant surface area in the complex of the transportation infrastructure that is currently in- Lordsburg Playa landscape, at least during our March herent with the visibility related crashes on Interstate 2018 testing, they exhibited lower PM emissivities than Highway 10 at Lordsburg Playa. Costs exceeding US $ 1 would be necessary to obscure visibility along Interstate million may be estimated per loss of human life related Highway 10. This is due to the limited abrader material to medical care, emergency services, productivity over a on the surface. Sand from beach areas or massive coarse lifetime, insurance, workplace costs, and legal costs sediment flows saltating downslope and downwind (Blincoe et al. 2015). A simple calculation of economic across large areas of the indurate clay-rich crust or dis- costs alone in terms of financial impacts cannot take turbance by crust crushing activities such as off-road ve- into account the effects on others, including family and hicle traffic or cattle grazing could potentially change friends who depend on that person for physical support, this situation. One of the limitations of the PI-SWERL is emotional support, and quality of life. the inability to introduce abrader sand and this limita- tion may have limited PM emission observations. The Conclusions trampling of crusts by the movement of cattle was dem- Lordsburg Playa in New Mexico, USA is representative onstrated to increase dust emissions during controlled of playa (dry lakebed) environments in many desert Van Pelt et al. Geoenvironmental Disasters (2020) 7:34 Page 11 of 12 regions where windblown dust emissions create traffic L: Lacustrine deposits in ephemerally flooded areas of the playa, usually clay- rich and highly indurated; MaxQ: The greatest 1 s vertical flux of PM during safety and crash hazards, and a priority site for environ- a PI-SWERL test, an index of surface emissivity; NAAQS: U.S. Environmental mental remediation to improve highway safety and re- Protection Agency National Ambient Air Quality Standards; NMDOT: New duce detour-related delays and losses. We tested the Mexico Department of Transportation; NRCS: U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service; PC: PI-SWERL test site near the surface emissivity characteristics at sites representing center of the ephemerally flooded playa; PI-SWERL: Portable In-Situ Wind different landscape positions, sedimentology, manage- ERosion Laboratory; PM : Particles with diameters less than ten micrometers; ment histories, and surface crust disturbance at Lords- PSD: Particle Size Distribution; RFP: PI-SWERL test site at the Road Forks Playa, an ephemerally flooded surface south of Interstate Highway 10; burg Playa using a PI-SWERL. A wide range of values SAS: Statistical Analysis Software published by the SAS Institute; TotQ: The for threshold friction velocity, friction velocity at which total PM10 vertical flux produced during the 540 s PI-SWERL test; u*: Friction the National Ambient Air Quality Standard would be velocity; u* : Friction velocity at which sufficient PM vertical flux was exc 10 measured to exceed NAAQS; u* : Friction velocity at which the greatest max exceeded in a 30 m column of air (representing forma- vertical flux of PM was measured; u* : Threshold friction velocity, the 10 t tion of a dust cloud), PM (fine dust) vertical flux rates, friction velocity at which vertical flux of PM10 was initiated; WB: PI-SWERL and total PM vertical flux during the nine minute test test site at the west end of Pipeline Road (a beach deposit) were indicative of the complexity of the surfaces en- Disclaimers countered in the immediate vicinity of Lordsburg Playa. Mention of trade names is for informational purposes only and does not We also found that the critical friction velocities and infer endorsement by nor exclusion of other similar products by the United States Department of Agriculture or other agencies supporting this work. emissivities were not strongly dependent on the surface The United States Department of Agriculture is an equal opportunity sediment texture but were highly dependent on surface employer and provider. crust strength, thickness, and disturbance. From our data, we concluded that the actual lake bed Authors’ contributions RSVP and TEG conceived the investigation; TEG provided funding of UTEP surface is not strongly dust-emissive when intact even personnel; JT and JL provided equipment; RSVP, JT, CC, IE, and MM when dry, but the shoreline margins or beach areas and performed field investigations; RSVP and JT curated the data, RSVP analyzed areas of the Animas Creek delta are highly dust-emissive the data; IE analyzed the PSD of surface sediments, the threshold wind speed frequencies and provided images used for Figs. 1, 2, 3 and 4; RSVP and should be the focus areas of management to miti- wrote the original draft; all authors reviewed and edited the manuscript in gate wind erodibility including limiting disturbance and its current form. The authors acknowledge the help of Dr. John E. Strack for augmenting native sediment trapping vegetation when curating and plotting the data so that threshold friction velocities could be fit. The authors read and approved the final manuscript. possible. The western shoreline of the playa was the most emissive of the sites tested and was one of the few Funding areas without dust supply limitation even though the Support is acknowledged for various parts of this work from grants surface sediments contain by far the lowest percentage NNX16AH13G and 80NSSC19K0195 from NASA and Project UTEP-01-13 from the Center for Advancing Research in Transportation Emissions, Energy, and of PM ; this is likely due in part to legacy sediment Health (CARTEEH), a U.S. Department of Transportation University Transporta- control structures (dams and berms) on the slopes above tion Center. the playa which are failing and releasing pulses of debris onto the western playa surface. For these reasons, this Availability of data and materials The authors will provide the data upon request. area should be a priority for dust emission control mea- sures followed by areas on the Animas Creek delta that Competing interests develop more fragile crusts. In order to improve highway The authors have no conflict of interest or completing interest with any safety and reduce the risk of continued visibility-related entity responsible for management of the Lordsburg Playa. crashes and shutdowns, the playa should be carefully Author details monitored for and protected against activities that dis- 1 USDA Agricultural Research Service, 302 W. Interstate 20, Big Spring, TX, 2 3 turb the crust and increase dust emissions. Plans are USA. USDA Agricultural Research Service, Ft. Collins, CO, USA. Department of Geological Sciences, and Environmental Science & Engineering Program, currently being considered for remediation of the dust University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, TX, USA. Hebei Normal University, sources on and near the Lordsburg Playa (Botkin and 5 Shijiazhuang, Hebei, P. R. China. Department of Geosciences, The University Hutchinson 2020). It is hoped that by identifying the of Tulsa, Tulsa, OK, USA. Environmental Science and Engineering Program, University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, TX, USA. Department of Geological most emissive sources, priority areas can be identified Sciences, University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, TX, USA. that will rapidly result in mitigation of the dust visibility hazard along this section of Interstate Highway 10. 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