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Effects of wetting and drying cycles on in situ soil particle mobilization

Abstract : Understanding particle mobilization and transport in soils is a major concern for environmental protection and water resource management as they can act as vectors for sorbing pollutants. In natural soils, the existence of a finite size and renewable pool of dispersible particles has been hypothesized. Even though freeze-thaw and wetting-drying cycles have been identified as possible mechanisms of pool replenishment between rainfall events, to date the underlying phenomena ruling the renewal of particle pools are still largely unexplored. We carried out a series of infiltration-drainage experiments to study systematically the effects of periods without rain (pauses) on in situ particle mobilization in undisturbed soil columns. We found that, for a given column, pause duration between two rainfall events has a major influence on subsequent particle mobilization: the mass of leached particles increases with pause duration until it reaches a maximum (mass for a 200-hours pause is 15 time greater than for a 1-hour pause), and then it decreases for even longer pauses. This behaviour was correlated with soil water content, and can be explained by soil matrix weakening due to differential capillary stresses during drying. The consequences of this finding are important because the 15-fold increase in mass of leached particles, when pause duration is changed from 1 hour to 4 days, might overwhelm variations caused by changes in other parameters such as the ionic strength of the incoming solution or the rainfall intensity.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, May 27, 2009 - 12:43:35 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, October 14, 2020 - 4:05:56 AM

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Samer Majdalani, Eric Michel, Liliana Di Pietro, Rafael Angulo-Jaramillo. Effects of wetting and drying cycles on in situ soil particle mobilization. European Journal of Soil Science, Wiley, 2008, 59 (2), pp.147 à 155. ⟨10.1111/j.1365-2389.2007.00964.x⟩. ⟨insu-00388759⟩

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