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Soil Science Society of America Journal Abstract -

Fiberglass Wicks for Sampling of Water and Solutes in the Vadose Zone


This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 56 No. 3, p. 701-707
    Received: Jan 31, 1991

    * Corresponding author(s):
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  1. J. Boll,
  2. T. S. Steenhuis  and
  3. J. S. Selker
  1. Dep. of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, Cornell Univ., Ithaca, NY 14853
    Dep. of Bioresource Engineering, Oregon State Univ., Corvallis, OR 97331



Sampling solute concentrations in the vadose zone provides an early-warning system for groundwater pollution. Various sampling devices are available. This study evaluates the functionality of fiberglass wicks in a soil solution sampler. Fiberglass wicks act as a hanging water column, drawing water from the undisturbed field soil without external application of suction. Flow characteristics of wicks were observed in the laboratory by miscible-displacement tests using Br and an organic dye. The matric potential in the wick as a function of flow rate was measured. Fiberglass wicks behaved like a porous medium that effectively could apply a suction to the soil while only minimally retarding the organic dye. The relationship between matric potential, moisture content, and unsaturated conductivity was determined for several wicks. Based on these relationships, a set of curves was produced depicting travel time of nonadsorbed chemicals and the matric potential in the wick as a function of flow rate. These curves can be used for selecting optimum wick length and diameter for a given sampler configuration.

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