Dustfall on the southern high plains of Texas



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Texas Tech University


Dust and dust storms are a frequent occurrence on the Southern High Plains. According to previous research, the Plains were formed by a “slow and gradual process of aeolian deposition on grassland vegetation” (Gustavson and Holliday, 1999). In the early part of the 20th century the Southern High Plains was transformed into agricultural lands that were highly susceptible to wind erosion. By the mid -1980s much of the highly erodible crop land was removed from production by the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) in an effort to reduce the amount of soil available for wind erosion: Bernier (1995) showed the declining number of blowing dust days after the introduction of the CRP program.
This research project evaluated data from passive dustfall traps located in Lubbock and/or Big Spring, Texas since the late 1990s. The devices were sampled on a quarterly basis and the mass and some of the physical and chemical characteristics of the dust were recorded. Meteorological and air quality data corresponding to the periods of dustfall sampling were also obtained: meteorological variables were collected on an hourly average basis and air quality data as daily averages. An objective was to try and correlate the amount of dustfall with meteorological parameters such as wind speed, temperature and precipitation. By and large, there was no statistically significant relationship between the meteorological parameters and dustfall.