Recurring fingered flow pathways in a water repellent sandy field soil

Coen J. Ritsema, Louis W. Dekker, Erik G.M. Van Den Elsen, Klaas Oostindie, Tammo S. Steenhuis, John L. Nieber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Field evidence of finger formation and reformation during successive rain events over an eight months' observation period from June 1994 until January 1995 is presented. Fingered flow pathways were monitored in a no-tilled, grass-covered water repellent sandy field soil using an automated, stand-alone TDR device. Within a 2 m long and 0.7 m deep transect, 98 three-wire probes were installed horizontally at depths of 4, 12, 20, 30, 40, 55, and 70 cm. The horizontal distance between two adjacent probes was 15 cm. Finger formation occurred during distinct rainy periods and was most pronounced under heavy rainfall with initially wet topsoil conditions. The percentage of water infiltrated and transported preferentially through the fingers to the deep subsoil varied between 0 and 80%, depending on the wetting history of the soil and the rainfall characteristics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)777-786
Number of pages10
JournalHydrology and Earth System Sciences
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1997

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