University of Guam, Western Pacific Tropical Research Center - Research for Guam's Future
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Fields of Study

Soil Science: Environmental Aspects

Sedimentation as a result of runoff is the principal human-caused threat to the environment in general and to water quality in particular on the Pacific island of Guam. Erosion damage is a serious problem to the environmental ecosystem of the island. Sediment lost to erosion clogs rivers, lakes, and waterways. Erosion and sedimentation loss are also a major source of water-quality problems in Guam. Sedimentation provides a vehicle for the transport of agricultural chemical residues into canals, streams, rivers, and eventually near-shore ecosystems, where it damages coral reefs.

In addition, volcanic and mountainous southern Guam is prone to severe soil erosion by water. Because of severe erosion of the soil in upstream watersheds during heavy rains: muddy fresh water is commonly observed mixing with the seawater at the river mouth and damaging the coral reefs. In the areas where protective vegetation cover is lowest and the soil quality is poor (due to low organic-matter content) the soil is vulnerable to the high shearing forces of such overland flow. Among the plants considered for this purpose is Vetiver grass (Vetiveria zizanioides). Vetiver grass is a dense, bunch-type grass with stiff stems and an extremely fine and extended root system (up to 15 ft deep) that grows to a height of several feet. It does not spread by stolons or rhizomes and does not produce fertile seeds, so it poses no danger of becoming a weed. When individual seedlings are planted 4-5 inches apart, they form a dense 15- to 20-inch-wide permanent hedge capable of trapping the sediment in runoff and stopping soil erosion in situ.


Dr. Golabi holding vetiver grass, which is fire resistant and unique in its ability to control erosion.


We are currently studying the effectiveness of Vetiver grass as a sediment trap and its effect on water quality improvement and for the mitigation to coral reef degradation as the 'Environmental Aspect of Soil Sciences' at the College of Natural and Applied Sciences at the University of Guam.



The following researchers are involved with this Field of Study:

Mohammad  Golabi - Publications


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