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Subsurface Flow Patterns in a Riparian Buffer System

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Transactions of the ASAE. 37(6): 1783-1790. (doi: 10.13031/2013.28267) @1994
Authors:   D. D. Bosch, R. K. Hubbard, L. T. West, R. R. Lowrance
Keywords:   Matric potential, Soil water, Unsaturated flow, Groundwater response

Matric potential was measured in a grass and forest riparian buffer system adjacent to a cropped field in the Georgia Coastal Plain. The soil in the adjacent cropped field is a Tifton loamy sand, containing an argillic subsurface horizon with plinthite at approximately 1 m which has been shown to restrict vertical infiltration and induce lateral flow. Two years of matric potential data and measurements of soil hydraulic characteristics were examined to evaluate and quantify unsaturated water flow in the riparian buffer. The lowest soil matric potential occurred at the grass/forest interface, and the greatest surface infiltration occurred within 10 m downslope of the same interface. The area of low matric potential was likely due to water uptake by trees. Water flowed laterally through the unsaturated soil into the riparian area from the upland field, apparently induced by low vertical conductivity in the subsurface and driven by the high water demand of the forest.

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