Rainfall-induced soil surface sealing can have severe agricultural, hydrological, and environmental effects. Seal formation is a complex phenomenon dominated by a wide variety of factors involving soil properties, rainfall characteristics, and flow conditions. It has been studied through extensive experimental investigations as well as simulation models. This study reviews some of the main issues, in terms of morphology, phenomenology, and both conceptual and empirical modeling approaches to improve our perception of the phenomenon and our ability to simulate its effects on flow processes. The effects of different factors on infiltration during seal formation and in sealed soil profiles are highlighted, including seal representation, soil and rainfall properties, and field heterogeneity. New research opportunities toward a generalized formulation of the processes involved in soil sealing and a reliable quantitative prediction of its effects on flow processes are identified. These are related mainly to the ability to quantify and predict the relationships between soil hydraulic properties and physical, chemical, and biological factors that affect the soil resistance to destruction.

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