Occurrence of Perched Saturation and Interflow Over an Argillic Horizon in a Low Relief Hillslope
Jackson, C. Rhett
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Many of the soils in the southeastern US are characterized by an argillic, or clay horizon, that largely parallels the soil surface at depths ranging from a few centimeters to 100 centimeters. The degree to which these argillic horizons alter subsurface movement of infiltrated water is not well known. Interflow, or throughflow, is shallow lateral subsurface flow that moves over a horizon that restricts percolation. This research investigates how often and under what conditions a relatively deep (20-150+ cm) argillic horizon on low slope (2-6%) hillsides causes interflow to occur. Research is being conducted at the Savannah River Site, Aiken, South Carolina, on a small zero-order watershed. In the first phase of this research, a high resolution topographic map of the clay layer was developed. This map will be used to instrument designated “low” spots with max rise piezometers in order to determine if there is channelized subsurface flow. In situ conductivities of the clay layer and the surface horizons were measured using an Amoozegar meter, and bulk density samples were taken and measured. Along with soil topographic measurements, data-logging piezometers have been installed to measure the piezometric head above, in, and below the argillic horizon to further investigate interflow as a potential hydraulic routing mechanism. The stream that drains the catchment was instrumented with a 2’ H flume and data-logging pressure transducer to measure stream flow. Climate data including precipitation, barometric pressure and temperature, are being continuously collected in an open area approximately ¼ mile from the study site. Combining the shallow surface and subsurface piezometric heads with stream flow rates, we should be able to determine if and when the clay layer is contributing to interflow.