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Pedological criteria for estimating the importance of subsurface lateral flow in E horizons in South African soils

JJ van Tol, M Hensley, PAL Le Roux


E horizons formed in soils by reduction and eluviation are considered to be an indicator of subsurface lateral flow (SLF) between the A and B horizons – a hydrological process important in generating streamflow. There is, however, uncertainty in the interpretation of the hydropedological behaviour of some E horizons. This study used a physical index (SLFI) to estimate the importance of SLF in profiles with E horizons, where SLFI is Ksc/Ksi x (tanβ x L). Data were obtained from the South African Land Type database. For criteria development, 156 profiles were used and an additional 80 profiles were used to validate the criteria. SLFI values were determined for the 156 profiles and then divided into 3 groups, with high, medium and low values. The basic hypothesis was that the individual quantifiable and qualitative soil and landscape properties influencing the pedogenesis of E horizons, and their integrated pedogenetic expression in soil forms, would be most and least strongly expressed in the profiles of the ‘high’ and ‘low’ SLFI groups, respectively. This concept was employed in a unique way to allocate numerical values expressing the estimated importance of the criteria with regard to SLF. In order to validate the pedological criteria the 80 test profiles were subjected to a similar procedure to that used to develop the criteria, resulting in an integrated pedological criterion value for each profile, which was then correlated against its SLFI value. Selected measured properties, i.e. organic matter, Fe, Mn and clay content, of the test profiles were also correlated against their SLFI values in the validation process. The results provide supporting evidence for the validity of the pedological criteria.

Keywords: hydrological behaviour, interflow; Land Type database; PUB; soil properties
AJOL African Journals Online