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Mixing of event and pre‐event water in a shallow Entisol in sloping farmland based on isotopic and hydrometric measurements, SW China

Zhao, Pei, Tang, Xiangyu, Zhao, Peng, Zhang, Wei, Tang, Jialiang
Hydrological processes 2016 v.30 no.19 pp. 3478-3493
Entisols, agricultural land, base flow, groundwater, groundwater flow, mixing, nutrients, pollution control, porosity, preferential flow, rain, ridging, soil profiles, soil water, soil water content, subsurface flow, vadose zone, water management, water table, China
Water percolation and flow processes in subsurface geologic media play an important role in determining the water source for plants and the transport of contaminants or nutrients, which is essential for water resource management and the development of measures for pollution mitigation. During June 2013, the dynamics of the rainwater, soil water, subsurface flows and groundwater in a shallow Entisol on sloping farmland were monitored using a hydrometric and isotopic approach. The results showed that effective mixing of rainwater and soil water occurred in hours. The rebound phenomenon of δD profiles in soils showed that most isotope‐depleted rainwater largely bypassed the soil matrix when the water saturation in the soil was high. Preferential‐flow, which was the dominant water movement pattern in the vadose zone, occurred through the whole soil profile, and infrequent piston‐flow was mainly found at 20–40 cm in depth. The interflow in the soil layer, composed of 75.2% rainwater, was only generated when the soil profile had been saturated. Underflow in the fractured mudrock was the dominant flow type in this hillslope, and outflow was dominated by base flow (groundwater flow) with a mean contribution of 76.7%. The generation mechanism of underflow was groundwater ridging, which was superimposed upon preferential‐flow composed mainly of rainwater. The quick mixing process of rainwater and soil water and the rapid movement of the mixture through preferential channels in the study soil, which shows a typical bimodal pore size distribution, can explain the prompt release of pre‐event water in subsurface flow. Water sources of subsurface flows at peak discharge could be affected by the antecedent soil water content, rain characteristics and antecedent groundwater levels. Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.