loading page

Matrix Recharge of Vertic Forest Soil by Flooding
  • +1
  • Savannah R. Morales,
  • Mary Grace T. Lemon,
  • Ryan D. Stewart,
  • Richard F Keim
Savannah R. Morales
Providence Engineering and Environmental Group LLC, Providence Engineering and Environmental Group LLC
Author Profile
Mary Grace T. Lemon
US Fish and Wildlife Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service
Author Profile
Ryan D. Stewart
Virginia Tech University, Virginia Tech University
Author Profile
Richard F Keim
Louisiana State University, Louisiana State University

Corresponding Author:rkeim@lsu.edu

Author Profile


Vertisols shrink and swell with changes in soil moisture, modifying hydraulic properties. Vertisols are often in floodplains, yet the importance of flooding as a source of soil moisture remains poorly understood. We used blue dye and deuterated water as tracers to determine the role of the macropore network in matrix recharge under artificial flood durations of 3 and 31 d in large soil monoliths extracted from a forested soil. Gravimetric soil moisture content increased by 47% in the first three days, then increased only 3.5% from day 3 to 31. Post-flood moisture content was greatest in the organic-rich, top 10 cm and was lower at 10 to 75 cm where organic matter was less. Deuterium concentration revealed that soil moisture in the top 10 cm was quickly dominated by artificial flood water, but at depth remained <80% floodwater even after 31 d. Pervasive dye staining of ped surfaces in the top 4 cm indicated connectivity to flood waters but staining at depth was less and highly variable. The isotopic composition of soil water at depth continued to shift toward flood water despite no differences in dye staining between days 3 and 31. Results indicate flooding initially but incompletely recharges matrix water via macropores and suggest the importance of flooding as a source of matrix recharge in vertic floodplain soils may depend more on flood frequency than duration. Isotopic composition of matrix water in vertic soils depends on both advective and diffusional processes, with diffusion becoming more dominant as porosity decreases.