Gravel Road

ANF Sediment Quantification Study

Quantification of sediment production from 14 shallow oil well access road in the Allegheny National Forest. Additional quantification of 4 sites after placement of new aggregate surfaces.


US Department of Energy, National Energy Technology Laboratory; and US Forest Service, Northern Research Station


Phase I, testing on 14 existing sites completed 12/2011. Phase II, testing on 4 sites with new aggregate completed 3/2012.


This project quantified sediment production from 14 sections of road used by the shallow oil and gas industry within the Allegheny National Forest. In addition to these 14 "existing condition" road tests, four of the sites then had a new surface applied, after which testing was repeated. The purpose of this research was to quantify and compare sediment production rates from existing roadways, and to determine any change in sediment runoff after placement of new aggregate surfaces on the road. The experimental approach taken in this study was to use a rainfall simulation device to create a repeatable rainfall event and collect sediment load data. The 14 sites tested showed sediment productions ranging from 3.2 to 60 pounds of sediment for each 30 minute simulated rain event. The average sediment runoff from the sites was 24.7 pounds, which equates to a sediment production rate of 1,300 pounds per mile for each 30 minute simulated rain event. After initial testing, 4 of the 14 sites were surface with new aggregate material. Two sites were surface with local "pit run" material as is standard procedure. Two of the sites were surfaced with Driving Surface Aggregate. The 4 sites were then tested a year later to determine sediment production. All four sites showd reductions in sediment production (39% and 65% for pit-run, 67% and 65% for DSA). The two pit-run sites averaged ten times as much sediment production as the DSA sites (26.1 lbs versus 2.5 pounds).

The Rainmaker in action and a collection site on a road in the ANF.
The Rainmaker in action and a collection site on a road in the ANF.

Report Download