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Unsustainable sand mining is threatening lives alongside the Mekong River in Cambodia


Unsustainable sand mining is threatening lives along the Mekong River in Cambodia
Sand mining within the Mekong River in Cambodia is rising the danger of harmful riverbank collapse. Credit score: College of Southampton

It is a useful resource utilized in international development and mined from rivers and coasts internationally. Now new analysis, as a part of a mission led by College of Southampton, has proven sand mining is inflicting river beds to decrease, resulting in riverbank instability and rising the chance of harmful river financial institution collapse, damaging infrastructure and housing and placing lives in danger.

The brand new analysis has been revealed within the journal Nature Sustainability.

Researchers targeted on the Mekong River—one of many world’s main sand-bedded rivers—in Cambodia.

Dr. Chris Hackney, a postdoctoral researcher on the College of Southampton, now based mostly on the College of Hull’s Power and Surroundings Institute, who led the analysis, stated: “With the world currently undergoing rapid population growth and urbanization, concrete production has grown massively, fueling unprecedented demand for sand, so much so that sand is now the most consumed resource on the planet, after water”

The analysis was undertaken as a part of a NERC funded mission led by Professor Stephen Darby on the College of Southampton, which is finding out the impression of local weather change on the fluctuation of sediment by way of the Mekong.

Professor Darby added, “A lot of the sand used within the manufacturing of concrete comes from the world’s large sand-bedded rivers, just like the Mekong. There has lengthy been a priority that sand mining from the Mekong is inflicting critical issues, however our work is the primary to supply a complete, rigorous, estimate not solely of the speed at which sand is being faraway from the system however how this compares to the pure replenishment of sand by river processes, in addition to the hostile impacts unsustainable sand mining has on river financial institution erosion.”

Unsustainable sand mining is threatening lives along the Mekong River in Cambodia
Sand Dredging within the Mekong. Credit score: Jim Greatest, College of Illinois

Within the examine, the group, which additionally included researchers from the Universities of Exeter and Illinois, used sonar surveys to measure how a lot sand is transported by way of the Mekong, both within the water column, or on the river mattress. The sonar surveys additionally revealed how a lot sand is being taken by sand miners; the sonar photographs present big holes 42 metres in size and eight meters deep on the river mattress on account of sand being faraway from the Mekong. By evaluating the pure sand transport charges with the estimates of sand extraction, the group estimated that sand is being faraway from the Mekong at a charge that’s between 5 and 9 occasions greater than the speed at which sand is replenished by the river’s pure sand transport processes.

Utilizing measurements of the form of the river banks made by a Terrestrial Laser Scanner, the group had been then in a position to analyze the extent to which the reducing of the river mattress will increase the danger of harmful river financial institution collapses. Dr. Julian Leyland of the College of Southampton, who carried out the TLS surveys, stated that “Our research showed that it only takes two meters of lowering of the river bed to cause many of the river banks along the Mekong to collapse, but we’ve seen that dredging pits can often exceed eight meters in depth. It’s clear that excessive sand mining is responsible for increased rates of bank erosion that local communities have been reporting in recent years.”

Dr. Hackney warns that with out correct regulation, extreme sand mining on the Mekong and different main rivers worldwide might have rising environmental and social penalties.

He stated: “We are seeing the profound effects that excessive sand mining is having on rivers, coasts and seas. We need much stronger regulation of unfettered sand mining to avoid the dangers that river side communities are facing.”


Cambodia bans overseas exports of coastal sand


Extra data:
River financial institution instability from unsustainable sand mining within the decrease Mekong River, Nature Sustainability (2020). DOI: 10.1038/s41893-019-0455-3 , https://nature.com/articles/s41893-019-0455-3

Quotation:
Unsustainable sand mining is threatening lives alongside the Mekong River in Cambodia (2020, January 14)
retrieved 14 January 2020
from https://phys.org/information/2020-01-unsustainable-sand-threatening-mekong-river.html

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