Water Flow Path Characterization in Shallow Vadose Zone Using Tensiometers

Mohammad Hassan Rezaie-Boroon, Omar Acosta, Rodrigo Chipres, Cheryl Cox, Frank Diemel, Norman Ho, Shaonan Li, Ricardo Lopez, Matthew Luque, Mayra Martinez, Dennis Palacios, James Wright
2017 Journal of Water Resource and Protection  
In this project, we will present the findings of a study using Tensiometer systems designed to investigate the water flow path pattern in shallow vadose zone. The purpose of this paper is to evaluate water flow path in shallow vadose zone and to calculate the infiltration rate and hydraulic conductivity of a soil using Tensiometer. We have measured the subsurface water flow paths in sandy clay loam soil following infiltration experiment using Tensiometers. The matric potential and hydraulic
more » ... uctivity measurements show that subsequent infiltration and water movement in unsaturated (vadose) zone are vertical, but it can have large lateral component under steady condition. This shows that water moves generally from high water content to lower water content region. Average pressure head for the percolation test conduction locations EB and HB was −30 and −80 cm respectively. Hysteresis produces another interesting situation when the soil is drained. We found that the wetter portion of the soil in vadose zone could be at a lower potential (head) than the dryer portions, resulting in lateral driving force for a preferential flow of water from the dryer to the wet soil. The infiltration rate for the 5 cm ponded water was calculated at 5.45 cm/hr. The infiltration rate curve shows that the rate of infiltration decreases with the time. When infiltration first starts, the wetting front is steep and very close to the surface. Similarly, due to the pressure head gradient, large value for infiltration is recorded. Under these conditions, we believe that the gradient in pressure head is responsible for the rapid movement of water into the dry soil. The effect of gravity is less on water during the initial stages of infiltration; however, it is more effective for preferential flow pattern. In the latter infiltration event, the wetting front has moved deeper into the soil. As a result, the pressure head gradient at the surface is much smaller and consequently has little effect. When the pressure
doi:10.4236/jwarp.2017.99071 fatcat:uy63afx46ve73hayh7wxxdhmrq