Soil surface characteristics influence on infiltration in black marls : application to the Super-Sauze earthflow (southern Alps, France)

Abstract : Soil surface characteristics (SSCs) have a strong influence on the infiltration properties at the soil surface. They can explain spatial variations in the infiltration processes observed under natural rainfall for relatively little-differentiated material and can help us to understand the surface and subsurface hydrology of landslides, representative of some of black marls landscapes of the French southern Alps. This paper presents the results of investigations into the influence of SSCs using careful morphological description, in situ tension-disc infiltrometry and statistical analysis (hierarchical ascending classification and stepwise discriminant analysis). The site studied is the Super-Sauze earthflow. The selected infiltration and runoff variables were described for 233 microplots chosen all over the earthflow. The results show that an approach based on a description of relevant variables influencing water infiltration can validate a typology based on 'expert' knowledge. Hydraulic conductivity at saturation was measured on 36 undisturbed soil cores and at low negative pressure heads on 83 microplots: the dispersion exceeds three orders of magnitude at each pressure head. A statistical analysis of the data set obtained by describing selected variables showed the relevance of the black marl descriptors when defining types of SSC that enable us to distinguish significant hydrodynamical behaviour. This leads us to suggest a distribution of hydraulic conductivity curves near saturation for each SSC type, which can be used as a key to distribute local hydraulic conductivity values adapted to black marl hillslopes. As well as the types of SSC at a microplot scale leading to types of hydrodynamic properties, the typology of combinations of SSCs at a coarser scale should lead to types of hydrological response and to identification of hydrological and geomorphological response units.
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Jean-Philippe Malet, Anne-Véronique Auzet, † Maquaire, ‡ Ambroise, † Descroix, et al.. Soil surface characteristics influence on infiltration in black marls : application to the Super-Sauze earthflow (southern Alps, France). Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, Wiley, 2003, 28 (5), pp.547-564. ⟨10.1002/esp.457⟩. ⟨ird-02153606⟩

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