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Spatial variability of hydraulic properties and sediment characteristics in a deep alluvial unsaturated zone

Farag E. Botros, Thomas Harter, Yuksel S. Onsoy, Atac Tuli and Jan W. Hopmans
Spatial variability of hydraulic properties and sediment characteristics in a deep alluvial unsaturated zone
Vadose Zone Journal (May 2009) 8 (2): 276-289

Abstract

Statistical analysis and interpretation of heterogeneous sediment hydraulic properties is important to produce reliable forecasts of water and solute transport dynamics in the unsaturated zone. Most field characterizations to date have focused on the shallow 2-m root zone. We characterized the geologic and hydraulic properties of a 16-m-deep, alluvial vadose zone consisting of unconsolidated sediments typical of the alluvial fans of the eastern San Joaquin Valley, California. The thickness of individual beds varies from <5 cm for some clayey and silty floodplain material to >2.5 m for large sandy deposits associated with buried stream channels. Eight major geologic units (lithofacies) have been identified at the site. Unsaturated hydraulic properties were obtained from multistep outflow experiments on nearly 100 sediment cores. Multivariate analysis of variance and post hoc testing show that lithofacies and other visual- and texture-based sediment classifications explain a significant amount of the spatial variability of hydraulic properties within the unsaturated zone. Geostatistical analysis of hydraulic parameters show spatial continuity of within-lithofacies variability in the horizontal direction in the range of 5 to 8 m, which is approximately an order of magnitude larger than spatial continuity in the vertical direction. Low nugget/sill ratios suggest that 1- to 10-m sampling intervals are adequate for detection of horizontal spatial structure. The existence of thin clay or silt layers within lithofacies units results in only moderate spatial continuity in the vertical direction, however, suggesting inadequate sampling frequency for hydraulic parameter variogram development in that direction.


ISSN: 1539-1663
Serial Title: Vadose Zone Journal
Serial Volume: 8
Serial Issue: 2
Title: Spatial variability of hydraulic properties and sediment characteristics in a deep alluvial unsaturated zone
Affiliation: University of California, Davis, Department of Land, Air and Water Resources, Davis, CA, United States
Pages: 276-289
Published: 200905
Text Language: English
Publisher: Soil Science Society of America, Madison, WI, United States
References: 48
Accession Number: 2009-054323
Categories: Hydrogeology
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Illustration Description: illus. incl. 5 tables, sketch map
N36°30'00" - N36°30'00", W119°34'60" - W119°34'60"
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2017, American Geosciences Institute. Abstract, Copyright, Soil Science Society of America. Reference includes data from GeoScienceWorld, Alexandria, VA, United States
Update Code: 200930
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