JWARP  Vol.9 No.9 , August 2017
Water Flow Path Characterization in Shallow Vadose Zone Using Tensiometers
Abstract: 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 conductivity 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 head is equal zero, infiltration rate approaches almost to the lowest level. We also observed that even a minor change in soil-water pressure due to slope could change both direction and magnitude of water flux.
Cite this paper: Rezaie-Boroon, M. , Acosta, O. , Chipres, R. , Cox, C. , Diemel, F. , Ho, N. , Li, S. , Lopez, R. , Luque, M. , Martinez, M. , Palacios, D. and Wright, J. (2017) Water Flow Path Characterization in Shallow Vadose Zone Using Tensiometers. Journal of Water Resource and Protection, 9, 1082-1096. doi: 10.4236/jwarp.2017.99071.

[1]   Bergalso, J.M.G., Cora, J.E. and Fernando, E.J. (2012) Measurement System of Soil, Water Matric Potential, and Evaluation of Soil Moisture under Different Irrigation Depth. Eng. Agríc., Jaboticabal, 32, 467-478.

[2]   Rawls, W.J., Ahuja, L.R., Brakensiek, D.L. and Shirmohammadi, A. (1993) Infiltration and Soil Water Movement. In: Maidment, D.R., Ed., Handbook of Hydrology, McGraw-Hill, New York, NY, USA, 5.1-5.51.

[3]   Thalheimer, M. (2013) A Low-Cost Electronic Tensiometer System for Continuous Monitoring of Soil Water Potential. Journal of Agricultural Engineering, 44.

[4]   Maddah, M., Olfati, J. and Maddah, M. (2014) Perfect Irrigation Scheduling System Based on Soil Electrical Resistivity. International Journal of Vegetable Science, 20, 235-239.

[5]   Logsdon, S.D. and Malone, R.W. (2015) Surface Compost Effect on Hydrology: In-Situ and Soil Cores. Compost Science & Utilization, 23, 30-36.

[6]   Ortegón, G.P., Arboleda, F.M., Candela, L., Tamoh, K. and Valdes-Abellan, J. (2016) Vinasse Application to Sugar Cane Fields. Effect on the Unsaturated Zone and Groundwater at Valle del Cauca (Colombia). Science of the Total Environment, 539, 410-419.

[7]   Young, M.H. and Sission, J.B. (2002) Methods of Soil Analysis. Part 3.2.2 Tensiometry, 575-673.

[8]   Watmouth, S.A., Koseva, I. and Landre, A. (2013) A Comparison of Tension and Zero-Tension Lysimeter and PRSTM Probes for Measuring Soil Water Chemistry in Sandy Boreal Soils in the Athabasca Oil Sands Region, Canada.. Water Air Soil Pollution, 224, 1663.

[9]   Knappe, S., Haferkorn, U. and Mattusch, J. (2014) Water and Solute Balances in Recultivated Lignite Mining Dump Soils-Field Data and Lysimeter Experiments. Water, Air, & Soil Pollution, 157, 85-105.

[10]   Ng, C.W., et al. (2016) Water Infiltration into a New Three-Layer Landfill Cover System. Journal of Environmental Engineering, 142, 4016007-1-4016007-12.

[11]   Duthe, D., Lorentz, S., Cameron-Clarke, S. and Oliver, A.J. (2005) Hydraulic Containment, Natural Attenuation and Phytoremediation as a Combined Remediation Strategy for an Industrial Waste Site in South Africa. Third International Phytotechnologies Conference, EPA, ORD, TIFSD Atlanta, GA, Atlanta, 20-22 April 2005.

[12]   Goss, M.J. and Ehlers, W. (2009) The Role of Lysimeter in the Development of Our Understanding of Soil Water and Nutrient Dynamics in Ecosystems. Soil Use and Management, 25, 213-223.

[13]   Brantley, S.L., Goldhaber, M.B. and Ragnarsdottir, K.V. (2007) Crossing Disciplines and Scales to Understand the Critical Zones. Elements, 3, 307-314.

[14]   Toll, D.G., Asquith, J.D., Fraser, A., Hassan, A.A., Lui, G., Lourenco, S.D.N., Mendes, J., Nogichi, T., Osinski, P. and Striling, R. (2016) Tensiometer Techniques for Determining Soil Water Retention Curves. Unsaturated Soil Mechanics from Theory to Practice-Proceedings of the 6th Asia-Pacific Conference on Unsaturated Soils, Guilin, 23-26 October 2015, 15-22.

[15]   Ebrahimian, H. and Noory, H. (2015) Modeling Paddy Filed Subsurface Drainage Using Hydrus-2D. Paddy and Water Environment, 13, 477.

[16]   Fetter, C.W. (2007) Applied Hydrogeology. 2nd Edition, Merrill Publishing, Columbus.

[17]   DiC Arlo, A.D., Bauters, T.W.J., Darnault, D.J.G., Steenhuis, T.S. and Parlange, J.Y. (1999) Lateral Expansion of Preferential Flow Paths in Sands. Water Resources Research, 35, 427-434.

[18]   Nielsen, D.R., Van Genuchten, Th.M. and Biggar, J.W. (1986) Water Flow and Solute Transport Processes in the Unsaturated Zone. Water Resources Research, 22, 89S-108S.

[19]   Coutinho, A.P., Lassabatere, L., Winiarski, T., da Silva Pereira Cabral, J.J., Antonino, A.C.D. and Angulo-Jaramillo, R. (2015) Vadose Zone Heterogeneity Effect on Unsaturated Water Flow Modeling at Meso-Scale. Journal of Water Resource and Protection, 7, 353-368.

[20]   Radcliffe, D.E. and Simunek, J. (2010) Soil Physics with Hydrus: Modeling and Applications. CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida.

[21]   IRROMETER Company (2016) IRROMETER® Operation Handout. IRROMETER Company, Riverside.

[22]   Coquet, Y., et al. (2005) Water and Solute Transport in a Cultivated Silt Loam Soil: 1. Field Observations. Vadose Zone Journal, 4,573-586.

[23]   Hillel, D. (2008) Soil in the Environment. Elsevier, Berlin, 305 p.

[24]   Schiff, K.C., Tiefenthaler, L., Bay, S.M. and Greenstein, D.J. (2016) Effects of Rainfall Intensity and Duration on the First Flush from Parking Lots. Water Journal, 8, 320.

[25]   Hendrickx, J.M.H. and Flury, M. (2001) Uniform and Preferential Flow Mechanism in Vadose Zone. National Academy Press, National Research Council, Washington DC, 149-187.

[26]   Kung, K.J.S. (1990) Preferential Flow in Sandy Vadose Zone. 2. Mechanism and Implications. Geoderma, 46, 59-71.

[27]   Kung, K.J.S. (1990) Preferential Flow in Sandy Soil. 1. Field Observation. Geoderma, 46, 51-58.

[28]   Baker, R.S. and Hillel, D. (1990) Laboratory Test of a Theory of Fingering during Infiltration into Layered Soil. Soil Science Society of America Journal, 54, 20-30.

[29]   Walter, M.T., et al. (2000) Funneled Flow Mechanisms in Sloping Layered Soil. Laboratory Investigation. Water Resources Research, 28, 427-431.

[30]   de Vera Fernandez, N., et al. (2017) Tracer Experiment in a Brownfield Using Geophysics and a Vadose Zone Monitoring System. Vadose Zone Journal, 16.

[31]   Lourenco, S., et al. (2015) Hysteresis in the Soil Water Retention of a Sand-Clay Mixture with Contact Angles Lower than Ninety Degrees. Vadose Zone Journal, 14, 1-8.

[32]   Mallants, D., Volckaert, G. and Marivoet, J. (1999) Sensitivity of Protective Barrier Performance to the Change in Rainfall Rate. Water Management, 19, 467-475.