Kulasekera, P. B. and Parkin, G. W. 2011. Influence of the shape of inter-horizon boundary and size of soil tongues on preferential flow under shallow groundwater conditions: A simulation study. Can. J. Soil Sci. 91: 211-221. Detailed studies of the impact of soil tongues at soil horizon interfaces are very important in understanding preferential flow processes through layered soils and in improving the accuracy of models predicting water and solute transport through the vadose zone. The implication of having soil tongues of different shapes and sizes created at the soil horizon interface on solute transport through a layered soil horizon was studied by simulating water and solute transport using the VS2DI model. This 2-D simulation study reconfirmed that soil tongues facilitate preferential flow, and the level of activeness of tongues may depend on the number of soil tongues, their spacing and distribution. Also, the size of the soil tongues (length and diameter at the interface between the soil horizons) and their shape influence the rate of preferential flow. Increasing tongue length consistently resulted in an increase in solute velocity across the entire soil profile regardless of the tongue shape; for example, a soil tongue of 0.25 m length increased solute velocity by about 1.5 times over a soil profile without tongues, but this increase might be different for soil types and groundwater conditions other than those considered in this study. Narrowing of tongues increased solute velocity, whereas increasing the number of tongues in a wider soil profile decreased the solute-front's velocity. As tongue length increased, the area containing solutes at prescribed elapsed times decreased. An implication of this study is that soil horizon tongue shape and spacing reduce pollutant residence times, hence inter-horizon boundary morphology should be considered when modelling transport through the vadose zone. As well, since the solute velocity behaviours of a triangular- and a wider rectangular-shaped tongue were nearly identical, simply measuring solute velocity in the field will reveal little information on the shape of a soil tongue.
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Vol. 91 • No. 2