Scaling Environmental Processes in Heterogeneous Arid Soils (SEPHAS)

The place to study environmental processes in desert soils.                    

The SEPHAS program was established in 2005 with a NSF-EPSCoR Research Infrastructure Improvement award (EPS-0447416). The goal was to build research capacity and capability in Nevada to improve our understanding of environmental processes in arid soils. Soils are an important component of the fragile desert environment of the state and relevant to the challenges being posed by a burgeoning human population is this increasingly arid landscape. The SEPHAS program was able to build and expand on Nevada’s leadership in arid ecosystem and subsurface science research.

Core part of the SEPHAS program is its lysimeter facility in Boulder City, NV, consisting of three weighing lysimeters of 2.2 m diameter and 3.0 m depth filled with soil from the Mojave Desert. The lysimeters have been collecting data on precipitation, evaporation, soil moisture, temperature and other relevant environmental parameters since summer 2008. This information is important to better understand water conservation and management, ground and surface water supply, improve flood control measures, and predict possible impacts of climate change for desert environments. Due to their size, the lysimeters bridge a critical gap between benchtop and field-scale experiments, giving Nevada the extraordinary capacity to address basic scientific questions and address practical problems unique to Nevada and other arid regions world-wide.

The SEPHAS program integrates cutting-edge experimental research with computational and visual technology, provides opportunities to collaborate on research projects, faculty and research training, encourages student involvement as well as maximizes educational benefits through K-12 educational outreach.

  BoulderCity Lysimeter1 BoulderCity Lysimeter3 BoulderCity Lysimeter2

Our Weighing Lysimeter Facility, in Boulder City, houses 3 round stainless steel lysimeters underground in separate rooms and accessible through a central tunnel.  Download our pamphlet.