Articles | Volume 15, issue 5
Research article
27 May 2011
Research article |  | 27 May 2011

Capillary rise quantifications based on in-situ artificial deuterium peak displacement and laboratory soil characterization

O. Grünberger, J. L. Michelot, L. Bouchaou, P. Macaigne, Y. Hsissou, and C. Hammecker

Abstract. In arid environments, water rises from the saturated level of a shallow aquifer to the drying soil surface where evaporation occurs. This process plays important roles in terms of plant survival, salt balance and aquifer budget. A new field quantification method of this capillary rise flow is proposed using micro-injections (6 μL) of a deuterium-enriched solution (δ value of 63 000‰ vs. V-SMOW) into unsaturated soil at a 1 m depth. Evaluation of peak displacement from profile sampling 35 days later delivered an estimate that was compared with outputs of numerical simulation based on laboratory hydrodynamic measurements assuming a steady state regime. A rate of 3.7 cm y−1 was estimated at a Moroccan site, where the aquifer water depth was 2.44 m. This value was higher than that computed from the relationship between evaporation rates and water level depth based on natural isotopic profile estimates, but it was lower than every estimate established using integration of the van Genuchten closed-form functions for soil hydraulic conductivity and retention curve.