Bagarello, Vincenzo and Baiamonte, Giorgio and Castellini, Mirko and Di Prima, Simone and Iovino, Massimo (2014) A Comparison between the single ring pressure infiltrometer and simplified falling head techniques. Hydrological Processes, Vol. 28 (18), p. 4843-4853. eISSN 1099-1085. Article.
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Testing the relative performances of the single ring pressure infiltrometer (PI) and simplified falling head (SFH) techniques to determine the field saturated soil hydraulic conductivity, Kfs, at the near point scale may help to better establish the usability of these techniques for interpreting and simulating hydrological processes. A sampling of 10 Sicilian sites showed that the measured Kfs was generally higher with the SFH technique than the PI one, with statistically significant differences by a factor varying from 3 to 192, depending on the site. A short experiment with the SFH technique yielded higher Kfs values because a longer experiment with the PI probably promoted short-term swelling phenomena reducing macroporosity. Moreover, the PI device likely altered the infiltration surface at the beginning of the run, particularly in the less stable soils, where soil particle arrangement may be expected to vary upon wetting. This interpretation was supported by a soil structure stability index, SSI, and also by the hydraulic conductivity data obtained with the tension infiltrometer, i.e. with a practically negligible disturbance of the sampled soil surface. In particular, a statistically significant, increasing relationship with SSI and an unsaturated conductivity greater than the saturated one were only detected for the Kfs data obtained with the PI. The SFH and PI techniques should be expected to yield more similar results in relatively rigid porous media (low percentages of fine particles and structurally stable soils) than in soils that modify appreciably their particle arrangement upon wetting. The simultaneous use of the two techniques may allow to improve Kfs determination in soils that change their hydrodynamic behaviour during a runoff producing rainfall event.
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