Tensiometer-equipped data acquisition systems measure and record positive and negative soil-water pressures. These data contribute to studies in hillslope hydrology, including analyses of rainfall runoff, near-surface hydrologic response, and slope stability. However, the unique ability of a tensiometer to rapidly and accurately measure pre- and post-saturation subsurface pressures requires maintenance techniques that have precluded their application to unattended sensor networks in semiarid regions. Under suction, the de-aired water in the tensiometer is drawn from a porous cup. Under positive pressure, dissolved gases from pore water infiltrates the cup. Over time, both contribute to unreliable readings and/or poor signal response through cavitation. To address this problem, we used commercially available equipment to develop a simple system of solenoid valves and a water reservoir that enable automated in situ tensiometer refilling. We tested the system at two post-wildfire hydrologic monitoring sites in the Angeles National Forest, southern California. We present example results from 3 mo of monitoring and show how the tensiometers can be refilled by a remote trigger. By remotely refilling the tensiometer, we were able to continuously monitor quasi-saturated soil pore-water pressures without making repeated and costly maintenance visits.
Additional publication details
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Title||Long-term soil-water tension measurements in semi-arid environments: A method for automated tensiometer refilling|
|Series title||Vadose Zone Journal|
|Publisher||Soil Science Society of America, Inc|
|Contributing office(s)||Geologic Hazards Science Center|
|Description||180070; 5 p.|