Hillslope run-off thresholds with shrink–swell clay soils

Hydrological Processes
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Irrigation experiments on 12 instrumented field plots were used to assess the impact of dynamic soil crack networks on infiltration and run-off. During applications of intensity similar to a heavy rainstorm, water was seen being preferentially delivered within the soil profile. However, run-off was not observed until soil water content of the profile reached field capacity, and the apertures of surface-connected cracks had closed >60%. Electrical resistivity measurements suggested that subsurface cracks persisted and enhanced lateral transport, even in wet conditions. Likewise, single-ring infiltration measurements taken before and after irrigation indicated that infiltration remained an important component of the water budget at high soil water content values, despite apparent surface sealing. Overall, although the wetting and sealing of the soil profile showed considerable complexity, an emergent property at the hillslope scale was observed: all of the plots demonstrated a strikingly similar threshold run-off response to the cumulative precipitation amount. 

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Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Hillslope run-off thresholds with shrink–swell clay soils
Series title Hydrological Processes
DOI 10.1002/hyp.10165
Volume 29
Issue 4
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Contributing office(s) OGW Branch of Geophysics
Description 15 p.
First page 557
Last page 571
Country Chile
State Lonquén Basin
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