Journal of Mountain Science

, Volume 16, Issue 7, pp 1606–1615 | Cite as

Mapping surface water erosion potential in the Soummam watershed in Northeast Algeria with RUSLE model

  • Youcef Sahli
  • Elhadj Mokhtari
  • Belkacem MerzoukEmail author
  • Benoit Laignel
  • Christophe Vial
  • Khodir Madani


The present study aims to estimate the annual soil loss in the Soummam watershed in the northeast of Algeria, using the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE), geographic information system (GIS), and remote sensing (RS). RUSLE model has been used for modelling the main factors involved in erosive phenomena. The Soummam watershed covers a surface area of 9108.45 km2 of irregular shape, northeast —southwest towards southeast. It is characterized by an altitude varying between 2 m in the northeast and 2308 m in the northwest. Results showed that the average erosivity factor (R) is 70.64 (MJ·mm)/(ha·h·year) and the maximum value reaches 140 (MJ·mm)/(ha·h·year), the average soil erodibility factor (K) is 0.016 (t·h·ha)/(MJ·ha·mm) and maximum values reach 0.0204 (t·h·ha)/(MJ·ha·mm) in the southeast regions of the watershed, the average slope length and steepness factor (LS) is 9.79 and the mean C factor is estimated to be 0.62. Thematic maps integration of different factors of RUSLE in GIS with their database, allowed with a rapid and efficient manner to highlight complexity and factors interdependence in the erosion risk analyses. The resulting map for soils losses, with an average erosion rate of 6.81 t/(ha·year) shows a low erosion (<7.41 t/(ha·year)) which covers 73.46% of the total area of the basin, and a medium erosion (7.42 to 19.77 t/(ha·year)), which represents 17.66% of the area. Areas with extreme erosion risk exceeding 32.18 t/(ha·year) cover more than 3.54% of the basin area. The results can certainly aid in implementation of soil management and conservation practices to reduce the soil erosion in the Soummam watershed.


Soummam watershed Soil erosion Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation Remote sensing Normalized Difference Vegetation Index 


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The authors acknowledge the Personnel of the National Agency of Water Resource (NAWR — Algiers) and their respective Universities for their assistance.

Supplementary material

11629_2018_5325_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (875 kb)
Mapping of surface water erosion potential using the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation in the Soummam watershed, Northeast Algeria


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Copyright information

© Science Press, Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, CAS and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory of Biomathematics, Biophysics, Biochemistry, and Scientometry (L3BS), Faculty of TechnologyUniversity of BejaiaBejaiaAlgeria
  2. 2.Department of Hydraulics, Faculty of TechnologyUniversity of M’silaM’silaAlgeria
  3. 3.UMR CNRS 6143 Continental and Coastal Morphodynamics Laboratory (M2C)University of RouenCedex, Mont-Saint-AignanFrance
  4. 4.CNRS, SIGMA Clermont, Pascal InstituteUniversity Clermont AuvergneClermont-FerrandFrance

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