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Evaluation of Erosion and Sedimentation
Rates using the 137Cs Technique and the
Contents of the Chemical Elements Fe, Ti, K, Mn, Zn, Ni and Cr in an Agricultural Field in Dakar, Senegal
Mamadou Lamine Sané1*, Modou Mbaye1, Alassane Traoré1, Moncef Benmansour2, Saliou Fall3, Djicknack Dione1, Mamoudou Sall4, Ababacar Sadikh Ndao1, Papa M N’diaye5 and Ahmadou Wagué1
1Department of Physics, Faculty of Sciences and Techniques, Institute of Applied Nuclear Technology, University of Cheikh Anta Diop, Senegal
2 Centre National de l’Energie des Sciences et des Techniques Nucléaires (CNESTEN), Morocco
3 Institut Sénégalais de Recherches Agricoles (ISRA)
4Department of Physics, Faculty of Sciences and Techniques, Laboratory of X-ray, University of Cheikh Anta Diop, Senegal
5 Department of Geology, University of Cheikh Anta Diop, Senegal
Submission: April 07, 2020; Published: April 20, 2020
*Corresponding author: Mamadou Lamine Sané, Institute of Applied Nuclear Technology, Department of Physics, University of Cheikh Anta Diop, Avenue Cheikh Anta Diop Po. Box 5005, Dakar, Senegal
How to cite this article: MamadouLamine S, Modou M, Alassane T, Moncef B, Saliou F, et al. Evaluation of Erosion and Sedimentation Rates using the 137Cs
Technique and the Contents of the Chemical Elements Fe, Ti, K, Mn, Zn, Ni and Cr in an Agricultural Field in Dakar, Senegal. Int J Environ Sci Nat Res. 2020;
24(3): 556139. DOI: 10.19080/IJESNR.2020.24.556139
Senegal is a sub-Saharan country which encounters degradation problems on its land. Of all the types of soil degradation, erosion is the one that contributes the most. However, in Senegal, the availability of erosion data, especially quantitative, is very limited. In this study, the aim is to use, for the first time in Senegal, the fallout of radionuclides to assess soil redistribution. Thus, the use of the anthropogenic radionuclide 137Cs has made it possible to estimate the rates of erosion and soil deposition relative to a period of approximately 60 years, at the level of an agricultural field in the Dakar region. An undisturbed field in the recent past was identified and served as a reference field in this study. The surface activity or the 137Cs inventory corresponding to this reference site is 414 ± 62Bq m-2. The transformation of 137Cs (Bq m-2) inventories into erosion or deposition rates was carried out using the “Mass Balance II” conversion model. The results obtained showed that the average and gross erosion rates were 18.8t ha-1 year-1 and 14.6t ha-1 year-1, respectively, while the average and gross deposition rates were 23.1t ha-1 year-1 and 5.2t ha-1 year-1, respectively. These results lead to a net erosion rate over the entire field of 9.4t ha-1 year-1 and to a rate of mobilized sediment leaving the study site of 65%. Analysis by X-ray fluorescence of the major chemical elements Fe, K and Ti in soil samples from the agricultural field produced average concentrations of 2.74, 0.16 and 0.74g kg-1, respectively. As for the minor chemical elements analyzed, the most preponderant is Cr followed in order by Ni, Mn and Zn.
Senegal is a country in the far west of the African continent. It is located between 12°30’ and 16°30’ north latitude and 11°30’ and 17°30’ west longitude . In Senegal, there are two seasons: a dry season and a rainy season. The length of a season varies from region to region. The average temperature during the dry season is 25°C and the rainy season 31°C.
Senegal, like the other countries of the Sahel, is facing a problem of land degradation when it represents one of the most
important factors of production. The earth is subject, among other types of degradation, to erosion. About 62% of Senegal’s degraded
arable land is due to water erosion, or 1,510,000 hectares and 12% to wind erosion, or 287,000 hectares . Arable land in Senegal represents only 19% of the territory, or 3.8 million hectares . Besides the socio-economic impacts of reduced agricultural yields, erosion can cause ecological problems such as environmental pollution. Soil erosion is very little studied in Senegal, which justifies the limited availability of data on this phenomenon. In this paper a quantitative study of soil erosion is carried out using
the anthropogenic radionuclide Cesium-137 (137Cs) but also a
study of the behavior of the chemical elements Fe, Ti, K, Mn, Zn, Ni
and Cr according to the topography of the site. 137Cs is an artificial
radionuclide with a half-life of 30.17 years, produced during tests
of thermonuclear weapons during the years between 1950 and
1970. After its production, 137Cs occupies the atmospheric layers. It
reaches the ground by fallout processes in the wet (precipitation)
or dry . A correlation between precipitation and fallout from
137Cs has been established by [5,6]. On the surface of the soil,
cesium 137 binds strongly and quickly to fine particles in the
soil. 137Cs is almost non-exchangeable by chemical or biological
processes in most environments. As a result of physical process,
the soil is transported with the incorporated 137Cs. Therefore, to
follow the movement of 137Cs is to follow the redistribution of the
soil. The fallout of 137Cs on a locality is assumed to be spatially
uniform and depends on the average annual precipitation and
the latitude . The evaluation of the redistribution is based on a
comparison between the inventory of 137Cs measured on the study
site and the inventory measured on the reference site. The latter
must be a stable site over fifty years old and not subject to erosion
or deposition. To obtain quantitative estimates of erosion or soil
deposition rates from inventories of 137Cs it is necessary to use
conversion models . The 137Cs technique has many advantages
compared to conventional monitoring techniques .
A quantitative study of soil erosion using radionuclide fallout
has never been carried out in Senegal. Among the West African
countries using this nuclear technique, Nigeria and Benin should
be mentioned [10,11]. At the African level, Morocco and then
Madagascar are considered to be among the first countries to
carry out quantitative estimates of soil erosion and deposition on
local sites. (Ex: [6,12-14]).
The objective of this work is to:
a) test the 137Cs technique in a sub-Saharan environment for
the estimation of erosion and deposition rates in an agricultural
field of the DAKAR peninsula,
b) contribute to the need for data on the state of soil
degradation by erosion in Senegal,
c) provide information on the contents of the chemical
elements Fe, Ti, K, Mn, Zn, Ni and Cr and follow their behavior in
relation to the decrease in the slope
The study site is located in Bargny, which is 20km from
the Senegalese capital, Dakar, on the east side. The site’s GPS
coordinates are 14°42’52.45’’N and 17°14’47.50’’W. The town of
Bargny is in the region of Dakar, department of Rufisque and its
geological coverage includes alternating marls and limestones. In
addition, this eastern part of the Dakar region includes a set of hills
and plateaus of altitudes below 50m . The temperature of the
area varies from 18°C and 39°C. The annual rainfall of the place is
511mm. August and September are the most rainy months. Bargny
is in the Niayes area where vegetable crops such as tomatoes,
onions, eggplants, salads are grown. Dakar and some regions of
the center of the country are supplied with vegetables thanks to
market gardening carried out in the Niayes area. The surface of
the field of study is approximately 700m2 and located on a slope
of approximately 16%. The study site is not far from a factory that
has been located in Bargny since 1958. The reference site is in the
environment of the agricultural field studied. The place does not
suffer from visible erosion or deposition. The reference site seems
to have remained undisturbed since the 1950s.
At the agricultural site of Bargny fourteen soil cores were
taken from two transects, from the top to the base of the field,
along the steep line and the runoff. A motorized corer for soil
column was used for this sampling campaign. The distance
between two consecutive sample collection points is 10m. Seven
sampling points were taken from each transect. The depth of each
carrot is 40cm for the purpose of sampling all of 137Cs .
At the reference site a total of 12 carrots were taken. One of
the cores was cut to establish the vertical distribution profile of
the 137Cs radionuclide. The soil core was cut in 4cm increments.
The remaining 11 carrots will be used to provide the reference
average surface activity value (inventory).
The samples were previously dried for 24h at a temperature of
80°C, crushed, sieved (<2mm) and homogenized. A representative
part of each sample was taken and put in a cylindrical plastic
container. The samples are analyzed by a gamma spectrometer
fitted with a high purity germanium detector, Canberra model.
The detector is coaxial type “P” characterized by a high energy
resolution of 1.8Kev to 1332Kev with excellent peak symmetry and
a relative efficiency of 30%. The detector calibration was carried
out using a certified multi-gamma source and two reference
materials (IAEA 327, IAEA 375). The samples are analyzed for a
period of 86,000s. The activity calculation, using gamma spectra,
using the GENIE-2000 software, made it possible to determine
the content of the radionuclide 137Cs from its gamma energy line
661keV in each sample.
The “mass balance model MBM2” [8-17]
This model can be expressed as follows:
A(t) is the 137Cs inventories (Bq m-2)
t is the time since the onset of 137Cs fallout (year)
R is the soil erosion rate (kg m-2 year-1)
d is the cumulative mass depth representing the average
plough depth (kg m-2)
λ is the decay constant for 137Cs (year-1)
I(t) is the annual deposition flux at time t (Bq m-2 year-1)
Г is the proportion of the freshly deposited 137Cs removed by
erosion before being mixed into the plough layer
P is the particule size factor
For 137Cs, the annual flux I (t) is expressed as:
In is a hypothetical record of annual 137Cs deposition flux for
a site in the northern hemisphere based on the record of 137Cs
deposited to the northern hemisphere (Bq m-2 year-1)
An (Bq m-2) is the current inventory for the hypothetical 137Cs
Aref (Bq m-2) is the 137Cs reference inventory for the study site.
Г is expressed as pγ (1 e R H ) − Γ = − where γ is the proportion
of the annual 137Cs input susceptible to removal by erosion and H
(kg m-2) is the relaxation mass depth of the initial distribution of
fallout 137Cs in the soil profile.
The samples from the study site were also analyzed by a
portable X-ray fluorescence device. XRF was performed with 100%
normalization and full fundamental parameter quantification
techniques. The metal content of sodium was determined by
ICP-AES to be 0.4, 0.470, 5.14 and 4.12% in ultrabasite (UB),
granodiorite-mylonite (D155), granodiorite (D153), and granite
The vertical distribution profile of the 137Cs concentration in
the depth follows an exponential decay (see Figure 2). This form
of exponential decay has been established in several studies
[18,19]. Most of the 137Cs was concentrated in the upper part
from the surface of the profile. About 84% of 137Cs was in the first
16 centimeters. This is in line with the study by Mabit et al. 
which indicated that a large proportion of 137Cs was located in
the upper 15cm of the soil. The greatest concentration value of
137Cs, 1.7Bq kg-1, was located between the fourth and the eighth
centimeter of the profile. Below the 24cm depth the 137Cs had
not been detected. Its value is lower than the detection limit of
0.4Bq kg-1. The coefficient of variation is within the acceptable
range of values according to the study by . The reference
inventory is 414.27Bq m-2, the standard deviation is 61.85Bq m-2
corresponding to a coefficient of variation of 16%. In this study,
the measured reference value is lower than that estimated by the
“Mass Balance II” conversion model  which is 575.84Bq m-2.
The reference inventory of this study is lower than other
reference inventories of the regions of the African continent
located in the northern hemisphere [10,13] but close to Benin
reference inventories . This similarity is due, on the one hand,
to the geographical position of the Dakar region where the study
is carried out. Dakar is a peninsula (except in the east where the
Thiès region is located, Dakar is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean)
with an area of 550km2 located in the far west of Senegal. Cesium
137 is deposited both dry and wet. The movement of the air mass
is generally from west to east. On the other hand, the rainfall in
the Dakar region, of around 500mm per year, is much lower than
that of Benin.
The vertical distribution of 137Cs in the soil of the cultivated
field showed that the radioelement is present up to a depth of
24cm. This is due to the use of an agricultural machine resulting
in an almost homogeneous distribution of the radionuclide 137Cs
in the depth profile due to the frequent mixing of agricultural soil
(Figure 3). The cesium 137 is inventoried at the cultivated site on
two parallel transects. 7 soil samples were taken for each transect.
Out of the 14 points sampled, 3 have inventories greater than the
reference value 414.27Bq m-2. There is then a deposition on these
three sampling points. On the 11 remaining points there is a loss of soil. On transect 1, the 137Cs inventory varies from 128.5 to
600.5Bq m-2 while at transect 2 it varies from 109.0 to 807.0Bq
m-2 (Figure 4). Li et al.  and Estrany et al.  showed in their
study the decrease in the inventory of 137Cs with the increase in
the slope. In this study the reduction in the inventory of 137Cs
along the slope varies from 69% and 74% at the top of the slope
for transect 1 and 2, respectively. At the bottom of the slope, the
gains in 137Cs are 45% and 95% for transect 1 and 2, respectively.
Furthermore, the variation of 137Cs activity along the slope also
seems to depend on the topography and the local change in the
slope from the summit to the base of the field (Figure 5). The
lowest transect 2 sampling point appears to have lateral inputs
of the radionuclide 137Cs. The origin of the significant loss of 137Cs
is certainly due to the cultivation practice, runoff and the absence
of soil conservation practice but it should also be noted that the
tillage is parallel to the direction of runoff, and does not favor
therefore not the stability of the soil in the field.
Inventories calculated from mass activities are converted into
erosion and deposition rates. This conversion is carried out using
the conversion model: “Mass Balance model 2 MBM2”. Some of the
parameters used in the MBM2 model were determined according
to local basic conditions while the others were taken by default.
a) The plough depth of the cultivated site is 25cm. Plowing
is carried out mechanically by an agricultural machine.
b) The proportion factor γ is the ratio of the amount of
rainfall during the winter season to the annual rainfall amount
and is equal to 0.8.
c) The relaxation mass depth in the initial distribution of
cesium 137 in the soil profile (H) was taken by default according
to Walling et al. (2011), H = 4kg m-2.
d) The plough depth of the cultivated site was determined
d = 386.5kg m-2
e) The particle size factor taken is P = P ’= 1
f) The reference activity which was used Aref 414.27Bq
The erosion rate assessed at the study site level varies between
1.3 to 43.0t ha-1 year-1. This erosion covers 79% of the surface of
the agricultural site. There is more erosion at the top of the slope.
It decreases at the same time as the slope attenuation. The 21% of
the surface of the agricultural field undergoes a deposition which
varies from 8.54 to 45.68t ha-1 year-1. The mean and gross erosion
were 18.8t ha-1 yr-1 and 14.6t ha-1 year-1, respectively. As for the
average and gross deposition, they were estimated at 23.1t ha-1
year-1 and 5.2t ha-1 year-1, respectively. The amount of sediment
that left the study site is approximately 65% (Table 2). Water
runoff greatly contributes to the movement of soil down the slope.
The climatic conditions typical of the sub-Saharan environment
are also favorable to erosion. The agricultural field is very
intensely cultivated. The culture being applied along the slope.
Analysis of soil samples from the Bargny agricultural
field by X-ray fluorescence made it possible to determine the
concentrations of the chemical elements Fe, Ti, K, Mn, Zn, Ni
and Cr. The average concentrations of the major elements show
the classification according to Fe>K>Ti while that of the minor
elements, it should be noted that their average concentrations
follow the following decreasing order Cr>Ni>Mn>Zn (Table
3). The global average concentrations of the elements Ti, Cr, Ni,
Mn and Zn are 7038, 59.5, 29, 488 and 70mg kg-1 respectively
. They are higher than the concentrations found in this
study. Despite the use of chemical fertilizer, fertilizer, pesticides
and industrial anthropogenic inputs, the concentrations of the
chemical elements studied remain relatively low. Sané et al. 
carried out a similar study accompanied by an assessment of
radio-toxicological risks in the area.
The inventories of the chemical elements Fe, Ti, K, Mn, Zn, Ni
and Cr measured on each sampling point of the transect 2 of the
disturbed site made it possible to draw the curves of Figure 6 &
7. The inventories of the chemical elements varied all along the
transect. Each element followed the movement of the soil in its
own way. Cr, Ni and Fe, in the agricultural soil of Bargny, seem to
have quite similar attitudes on the transect. Whereas K and Mn
were the two elements which seemed to follow more the behavior
of 137Cs on this transect than the other chemical elements. The Ti
and Zn elements were almost constant over the first 40 meters
from the top of the slope despite the effect of soil erosion.
The difference in behavior of the chemical elements may
be due to the nature of the soil, to cultural practices, but also
to the migration capacity of the mineral and organic retention components of the elements studied. At the bottom of the slope
the inventories of Ti and Zn were higher, 140.17g m-2 and 3.76g
m-2, respectively. Fe had the highest inventory in terms of major
elements while for minor elements it was Ni and Cr.
The texture of the soil at the study site was predominated by
sand at 63%, the silt represents 17% while the clay is 19%. The
amount of organic matter was on average 76% and the average
The nuclear technique of quantitative soil erosion assessment
is used for the first time by this study in Senegal in an agricultural
field located on a slope. This technique has many advantages over
conventional methods. The inventories found in the study site are,
in general, about the magnitude of other results from West African
countries like Benin and Nigeria. The “mass balance model 2
MBM 2” model was used to convert inventories into erosion and
deposition rates. MBM 2 takes into account many factors that can
influence the redistribution of soil. A net erosion 9.4t ha-1 year-1
was found for the agricultural field studied.
After this successful test, the FRN technique can be
implemented in other localities of the country such as the
groundnut basin which are suffering from the degradation of
arable land by erosion. It can also be used to meet the needs of
erosion data in certain localities of the country.
Concerning the chemical elements, the measurements have
shown that the concentrations are relatively low and that each
element has its own behavior on the soil surface. These data can
be used in the event of future studies of evolutionary monitoring
on the annual flow of metals on this agricultural soil.
This study is carried out within the framework of the regional
African technical projects RAF 5063 and RAF 5075 funded by
the IAEA. The objective of these projects is to support innovative
conservation farming practices to combat soil degradation and
increase soil productivity for improved food security.
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