Post-print of: Johnston, SG, Hirst, P, Slavich, PG, Bush, RT & Aaso, T 2009, 'Saturated hydraulic conductivity of sulfuric horizons in coastal floodplain acid sulfate soils: variability and implications', Geoderma, vol. 151, no. 3-4, pp. 387-394.
Publisher's version of article available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.geoderma.2009.05.010
The saturated hydraulic conductivity (Ks) of sulfuric horizons exerts a fundamental control on the connectivity between shallow groundwater and drains in coastal acid sulfate soils (CASS), strongly influencing rates of lateral seepage towards or from field drains. The Ks of sulfuric horizons was assessed on seven major coastal floodplains of eastern Australia using an in situ recovery technique conducted in ~ 0.4–0.65 m deep pits. Duplicate recovery tests were conducted in a total of 148 pits located in 32 separate geomorphic units across the seven coastal floodplains. Most pits were constructed in clay soils with acidic (pH < 4.0) shallow groundwater. The Ks spanned four orders of magnitude, ranging from < 0.5 m day− 1 to > 500 m day− 1. Data are log normally distributed and the median Ks was ~ 15.4 m day− 1. Over 40% of the pits had values > 20 m day− 1, challenging the assumption that Ks in sulfuric horizons in CASS landscapes is generally low. Visual observations confirm that high Ks values were strongly associated with macropore flow. These data demonstrate that Ks in coastal floodplain sulfuric horizons can be very high and is extremely variable within individual floodplains. These findings highlight the need for site specific assessments of soil hydraulic properties in CASS in order to ensure appropriate design and application of acid management techniques.