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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 21, issue 6
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 21, 3025–3040, 2017
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-21-3025-2017
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 21, 3025–3040, 2017
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-21-3025-2017
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 23 Jun 2017

Research article | 23 Jun 2017

Identification of runoff formation with two dyes in a mid-latitude mountain headwater

Lukáš Vlček1, Kristýna Falátková1, and Philipp Schneider2 Lukáš Vlček et al.
  • 1Department of Physical Geography and Geoecology, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic
  • 2Department of Geography, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland

Abstract. Subsurface flow in peat bog areas and its role in the hydrologic cycle has garnered increased attention as water scarcity and floods have increased due to a changing climate. In order to further probe the mechanisms in peat bog areas and contextualize them at the catchment scale, this experimental study identifies runoff formation at two opposite hillslopes in a peaty mountain headwater; a slope with organic peat soils and a shallow phreatic zone (0.5 m below surface), and a slope with mineral Podzol soils and no detectable groundwater (> 2 m below surface). Similarities and differences in infiltration, percolation and preferential flow paths between both hillslopes could be identified by sprinkling experiments with Brilliant Blue and Fluorescein sodium. To our knowledge, this is the first time these two dyes have been compared in their ability to stain preferential flow paths in soils. Dye-stained soil profiles within and downstream of the sprinkling areas were excavated parallel (lateral profiles) and perpendicular (frontal profiles) to the slopes' gradients. That way preferential flow patterns in the soil could be clearly identified. The results show that biomat flow, shallow subsurface flow in the organic topsoil layer, occurred at both hillslopes; however, at the peat bog hillslope it was significantly more prominent. The dye solutions infiltrated into the soil and continued either as lateral subsurface pipe flow in the case of the peat bog, or percolated vertically towards the bedrock in the case of the Podzol. This study provides evidence that subsurface pipe flow, lateral preferential flow along decomposed tree roots or logs in the unsaturated zone, is a major runoff formation process at the peat bog hillslope and in the adjacent riparian zone.

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The role of mountain headwater area in hydrological cycle was investigated at two opposite hillslopes covered by mineral and organic soils. Similarities and differences in percolation and preferential flow paths between the hillslopes were identified by sprinkling experiments with Brilliant Blue and Fluorescein. The dye solutions infiltrated into the soil and continued either as lateral subsurface pipe flow (organic soil), or percolated vertically towards the bedrock (mineral soil).
The role of mountain headwater area in hydrological cycle was investigated at two opposite...
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