Open-pit coal mine dumps in semi-arid areas in northern China are affected by serious soil erosion problems. The conventional field investigation method cannot ensure a fine spatial analysis of gully erosion. With recent technological and algorithmic developments in high-resolution terrain measurement, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and Structure from Motion (SfM) technology have become powerful tools to capture high-resolution terrain data. In this study, two UAV Photogrammetry surveys and modeling were performed at one opencast coal mine dump gully before and after a freeze-thaw cycle. Finally, a three-dimensional digital model of the slope of the drainage field was established, and a centimeter-level-resolution Digital Orthophoto Map (DOM) and a Digital Elevation Model (DEM) were created. Moreover, the development process of the erosion zone of the open-pit mine dump during a freeze-thaw cycle was studied by UAVs. The results show that there are clear soil erosion phenomena in the erosion gully of the dump during a freeze-thaw cycle. The erosion degree was different across regions, with the highest erosion occurring in high-slope areas at the upper edge of the bank. Moreover, the phenomenon of flake erosion and “crumble” was recorded. At the same time, the NE-E-SE slope and the high-sunshine radiation zone were seriously eroded. Finally, the relationship between the development process of the erosion gully and micro-topography factors was analyzed, providing managers with a sound scientific basis to implement land restoration.
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