Articles | Volume 1, issue 2
30 Jun 1997
30 Jun 1997

Soil water storage and groundwater behaviour in a catenary sequence beneath forest in central Amazonia:
I. Comparisons between plateau, slope and valley floor

M. G. Hodnett, I. Vendrame, A. De O. Marques Filho, M. D. Oyama, and J. Tomasella

Abstract. Soil water storage was monitored in three landscape elements in the forest (plateau, slope and valley floor) over a 3 year period to identify differences in sub-surface hydrological response. Under the plateau and slope, the changes of storage were very similar and there was no indication of surface runoff on the slope. The mean maximum seasonal storage change was 156 mm in the 2 m profile but it was clear that, in the dry season, the forest was able to take up water from below 3.6 m. Soil water availability was low. Soil water storage changes in the valley were dominated by the behaviour of a shallow water table which, in normal years, varied between 0.1 m below the surface at the end of the wet season and 0.8 m at the end of the dry season. Soil water storage changes were small because root uptake was largely replenished by groundwater flow towards the stream. The groundwater behaviour is controlled mainly by the deep drainage from beneath the plateau and slope areas. The groundwater gradient beneath the slope indicated that recharge beneath the plateau and slope commences only after the soil water deficits from the previous dry season have been replenished. Following a wet season with little recharge, the water table fell, ceasing to influence the valley soil water storage, and the stream dried up. The plateau and slope, a zone of very high porosity between 0.4 and 1.1 m, underlain by a less conductive layer, is a probable route for interflow during, and for a few hours after, heavy and prolonged rainfall.