Measurement of variation in soil solute tracer concentration across a range of effective pore sizes

Water Resources Research



Solute transport concepts in soil are based on speculation that solutes are distributed nonuniformly within large and small pores. Solute concentrations have not previously been measured across a range of pore sizes and examined in relation to soil hydrological properties. For this study, modified pressure cells were used to measure variation in concentration of a solute tracer across a range of pore sizes. Intact cores were removed from the site of a field tracer experiment, and soil water was eluted from 10 or more discrete classes of pore size. Simultaneous changes in water content and unsaturated hydraulic conductivity were determined on cores using standard pressure cell techniques. Bromide tracer concentration varied by as much as 100% across the range of pore sizes sampled. Immediately following application of the bromide tracer on field plots, bromide was most concentrated in the largest pores; concentrations were lower in pores of progressively smaller sizes. After 27 days, bromide was most dilute in the largest pores and concentrations were higher in the smaller pores. A sharp, threefold decrease in specific water capacity during elution indicated separation of two major pore size classes at a pressure of 47 cm H2O and a corresponding effective pore diameter of 70 μm. Variation in tracer concentration, on the other hand, was spread across the entire range of pore sizes investigated in this study. A two-porosity characterization of the transport domain, based on water retention criteria, only broadly characterized the pattern of variation in tracer concentration across pore size classes during transport through a macroporous soil.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Measurement of variation in soil solute tracer concentration across a range of effective pore sizes
Series title Water Resources Research
DOI 10.1029/93WR00529
Volume 29
Issue 6
Year Published 1993
Language English
Publisher American Geophysical Union
Contributing office(s) Toxic Substances Hydrology Program
Description 7 p.
First page 1831
Last page 1837
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