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Soil moisture data collected using an automated data logging system were used to estimate ground water recharge at a crude oil spill research site near Bemidji, Minnesota. Three different soil moisture probes were tested in the laboratory as well as the field conditions of limited power supply and extreme weather typical of northern Minnesota: a self-contained reflectometer probe, and two time domain reflectometry (TDR) probes, 30 and 50 cm long. Recharge was estimated using an unsaturated zone water balance method. Recharge estimates for 1999 using the laboratory calibrations were 13 to 30 percent greater than estimates based on the factory calibrations. Recharge indicated by the self-contained probes was 170 percent to 210 percent greater than the estimates for the TDR probes regardless of calibration method. Results indicate that the anomalously large recharge estimates for the self-contained probes are not the result of inaccurate measurements of volumetric moisture content, but result from the presence of crude oil, or bore-hole leakage. Of the probes tested, the 50 cm long TDR probe yielded recharge estimates that compared most favorably to estimates based on a method utilizing water table fluctuations. Recharge rates for this probe represented 24 to 27 percent of 1999 precipitation. Recharge based on the 30 cm long horizontal TDR probes was 29 to 37 percent of 1999 precipitation. By comparison, recharge based on the water table fluctuation method represented about 29 percent of precipitation. (JAWRA) (Copyright ?? 2005).
Additional Publication Details
Use of soil moisture probes to estimate ground water recharge at an oil spill site
Journal of the American Water Resources Association