Development of Macropores in the Subsurface by Burrowing Organisms & their Impacts on Infiltration, Runoff, and Contaminant Transport Characteristics

Affiliation(s) PI Project period Funded by
DHS Twarakavi, Navin Kumar C 05/15/2012 - 05/31/2013 TBD - Fed

Project Description

Macropores are ubiquitously found in the subsurface and have a significant impact on hydrological processes. The presence of macropores leads to preferential water flow through the unsaturated soils, which is not well described by a Darcy approach to flow through porous media. Biopores created by burrowing animals and invertebrates have significant influence on hydrological processes and also evokes interest among other disciplines such as entomology. The objective of this proposal is to study the impact of macropores developed by burrowing animals (biopores) on subsurface hydrology using an inter-disciplinary approach. The project studies the impact of biopores at the pore, soil column and meso-scales. Currently in the second year of the project, the results from the project have significantly improved our understanding of flow processes in macroporous soils at the pore-scale and laboratory scale. We have been able to understand the changes in hydraulic conductivity of macroporous soils as a function of the macropore density and inter-macropore connectivity. From an entomological perspective, significant knowledge has been obtained on the macropore/ burrow development in soils as a function of soil properties and the age, gender and maturity of mole crickets. These entomological results can be used to better develop pest-control strategies to minimize the damages caused by mole cricket infestation.