Legacy of Intensive Agriculture:
The Timing and Cause of Gully Formation in the Davidson Area
Gullies are common geomorphological features in the Piedmont of North Carolina that leave evidence of their erosion and deposition in the form of alluvial fans and gully fill sediment. We hypothesize that the formation of gullies in the Davidson area can be tied to intensive land use in the early years of Euromerican settlement in Mecklenburg County. Methods of investigation included digital and field mapping of gullies, soil pit observation, loss on ignition and particle size analysis, and radiocarbon dating. Results show that soils in gullies or their alluvial fans are less developed than the typical soil of the region and show evidence of erosion. Radiocarbon data link sedimentary deposition in alluvial fans and gully fill to the 18th century, which is concurrent with early Euromerican settlements in the Davidson area. This study concludes that land-use practices utilized by Euromericans had a detrimental erosive effect on Piedmont soils.