Effect of seasonal water fluctuation upon solute movement within a porous media
Kreba, Sleem Ali
Tracer methods are commonly used for estimation of soil water and groundwater recharge flux especially in arid and semiarid regions. These tracer methods are based on the solute profile shape (distribution of concentration with depth) and peak position. For soils of semi-arid to sub-humid climates, vertical water movement may seasonally vary in direction due to climate conditions and vegetative demands. The first objective of this thesis was to show that TDR (time domain reflectometry) can be a useful tool for estimation of soil water fluxes using tracer methods. The second objective was to study the effects of repeated cycles of directionally-varying flow upon solute profile shape and position used by tracer methods under controlled laboratory conditions. Three soil columns with a KCl tracer and Beaver Creek sand were used for this study. Rain and evaporative systems were used to cause the downward and upward soil water movements in the column, respectively. Soil moisture content and solute concentration were measured using TDR. The result for the first objective was that the peak migration and the soil water balance methods gave similar average upward and downward soil water fluxes. This result indicates that the TDR method can be recommended for determination of soil water fluxes with tracer methods in fields or in laboratory studies for sufficient time and depth. In the second objective, three different seasonal flow regimes were studied using the sand columns, and each flow regime simulated climatic seasons that might occur in the field. Several apparent and statistical parameters were used to evaluate the change of the solute profile shape and position under cycling conditions of the three different flow regimes. These parameters showed that the solute profile shape and position clearly changed under the three different repeated regimes of downward and upward seasonal flows. It was concluded that climate (seasonality) can have significant impacts on the estimation of soil water fluxes using tracer methods. The result from this investigation shows that the profile shape and position after a number of cycles (years of fluctuations) can provide a description of the previous climatic effects on the concentration profile. Therefore, the profile shape can be used as an indicator of the flow regime that has affected the solute profile shape. Moreover, if a reference of a solute profile is available (a solute profile before a period of time), it is easier to determine the flow regime affected the profile shape and position by determining the change of the profile shape and position using statistical parameters presented in this thesis.
DegreeMaster of Science (M.Sc.)
DepartmentAgricultural and Bioresource Engineering
ProgramAgricultural and Bioresource Engineering
SupervisorMaule, Charles P.
CommitteeSi, Bing C.; Fonstad, Terrance A.; Tabil, Lope G.
Soil water and solute fluxes
solute profile shape and position