Experimental Measurement of Diffusive Extinction Depth and Soil Moisture Gradients in a Dune Sand Aquifer in Western Saudi Arabia: Assessment of Evaporation Loss for Design of an MAR System
byIqra Mughal, Khan Z. Jadoon, P. Martin Mai, Samir Al-Mashharawi, Thomas M. Missimer
Water. December 2015, Vol. 7, Issue 12, Pages 6967–6982.
A component of designing a managed aquifer recharge system in a dune aquifer is the control of diffusive evaporative loss of water which is governed by the physical properties of the sediments and the position of the water table. A critical water table position is the “extinction depth”, below which no further loss of water occurs via diffusion. Field experiments were conducted to measure the extinction depth of sediments taken from a typical dune field in the region. The soil grain size characteristics, laboratory porosity, and saturated hydraulic conductivity were measured. The sand is classified as well-sorted, very fine sand with a mean grain diameter of 0.15 mm. Soil moisture gradients and diffusion loss rates were measured using sensors in a non-weighing lysimeter that was placed below land surface. The sand was saturated carefully with water from the bottom to the top and was exposed to the natural climate for a period of about two months. The moisture gradient showed a gradual decline during measurement until extinction depth was reached at about 100 cm below surface after 56 days. Diurnal temperature changes were observed in the upper 75 cm of the column and were negligible at greater depth.