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Soil Science Society of America Journal Abstract - DIVISION S-7-FOREST & RANGE SOILS

Morphological Characteristics of Macropores and the Distribution of Preferential Flow Pathways in a Forested Slope Segment


This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 63 No. 5, p. 1413-1423
    Received: Mar 9, 1998

    * Corresponding author(s): noguchi@ffpri.affrc.go.jp
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  1. Shoji Noguchi *a,
  2. Yoshio Tsuboyamaa,
  3. Roy C. Sidleb and
  4. Ikuhiro Hosodac
  1. a Forestry and Forest Products Research Inst., P.O. Box 16, Tsukuba Norin, Ibaraki 305-8687, Japan
    b Univ. British Columbia, Dep. of Forest Resource Management, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada
    c Tohoku Research Center, Forestry and Forest Products Research Inst., Morioka 020-0123, Japan


Water flow through soil macropores is important in determining hydrologic responses in forested watersheds. Morphological characteristics of macropores and distribution of preferential flow pathways were evaluated in a forest hillslope segment using a combination of staining agents. Almost 80% of described macropores were roughly elliptical with eccentricities ranging from 0.256 to 0.998 (mean of 0.652) and lengths ranging from 2.0 to 61.8 cm (mean of 11.6 cm). Tortuosity of macropores tended to increase with increasing length up to about 30 cm, with a mean value of 1.14. Macropores were aggregated in large clumps within the soil profile. Living and decayed roots and associated vertical zones of loose soil and humus contributed to preferential flow pathways in this soil. Subsurface flow patterns, detected by upslope injection of dilute white paint solution, showed a strong interaction between the soil matrix and macropores. Subsurface flow was lateral along the bedrock and between A and B horizons, with a perched water table occurring on sections of both. Dye tests also showed that flow occurred within surface bedrock fractures. This fracture flow was sometimes connected to macropores through zones of local wetness. Thus, we conclude bedrock topography and fracture characteristics may contribute significantly to preferential flow pathways at the hillslope scale. Even though individual macropores were rather short, the coupling of these flow paths with the soil matrix, bedrock fractures, living and decayed roots, and perched water tables produced complex networks of interconnected preferential flow pathways, all of which help explain the stormflow response observed in the catchment.

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