The main physical aspects of soil surface seal formation caused by rainfall are modeled. The proposed model relates the surface sealing to the specific hydraulic and mechanical properties of the initially undisturbed soil as well as the physical characteristics of the rainfall applied, under given initial and boundary conditions defining the flow system. The soil disturbance resulting from the raindrop impacts is expressed in terms of an increase of the initial soil bulk density. The dynamics of seal formation at the soil surface are found to be related to the following variables: the rainfall intensity, the second moment of the drop‐size density distribution, the maximal drop diameter, the compaction limit of the given soil, and its initial shear strength, which depends upon the initial soil bulk density and water content. Following Mualem and Assouline (1989), a nonuniform seal is considered, represented by an exponentially decreasing function of the bulk density with depth. The seal thickness is assumed to be dependent upon the rainfall rate. Its steady state value is assumed to be reached shortly after the beginning of rainfall so that it might be considered as constant during the stage of formation. A calibration procedure is presented on the basis of measured infiltration under sealing conditions. The results show that the proposed model addresses the main factors affecting soil sealing formation and is able to simulate the process of infiltration through sealing soils under saturated as well as unsaturated flow conditions.
Water Resources Research – Wiley
Published: Jul 1, 1997
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