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Variations in Soil Water Content, Infiltration and Potential Recharge at Three Sites in a Mediterranean Mountainous Region of Baja California, Mexico

1
Departamento de Geología, Centro de Investigación Científica y de Educación Superior de Ensenada (CICESE), Ensenada 22860, Mexico
2
School of Earth and Space Exploration, School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, Arizona State University, Tempe AZ 85287, USA
3
Departamento de Biología de la Conservación, Centro de Investigación Científica y de Educación Superior de Ensenada (CICESE), Ensenada 22860, Mexico
4
Departamento de Geofísica, Centro de Investigación Científica y de Educación Superior de Ensenada (CICESE), Ensenada 22860, Mexico
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2018, 10(12), 1844; https://doi.org/10.3390/w10121844
Received: 2 November 2018 / Revised: 21 November 2018 / Accepted: 29 November 2018 / Published: 13 December 2018
(This article belongs to the Section Hydrology)
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Abstract

In this research, we examined temporal variations in soil water content (θ), infiltration patterns, and potential recharge at three sites with different mountain block positions in a semiarid Mediterranean climate in Baja California, Mexico: two located on opposing aspects (south- (SFS) and north-facing slopes (NFS)) and one located in a flat valley. At each site, we measured daily θ between 0.1 and 1 m depths from May 2014 to September 2016 in four hydrological seasons: wet season (winter), dry season (summer) and two transition seasons. The temporal evolution of θ and soil water storage (SWS) shows a strong variability that is associated mainly with high precipitation (P) pulses and soil profile depth at hillslope sites. Results shows that during high-intensity P events sites with opposing aspects reveal an increase of θ at the soil–bedrock interface suggesting lateral subsurface fluxes, while vertical soil infiltration decreases noticeably, signifying the production of surface runoff. We found that the dry soil conditions are reset annually at hillslope sites, and water is not available until the next wet season. Potential recharge occurred only in the winter season with P events greater than 50 mm/month at the SFS site and greater than 120 mm/month at the NFS site, indicating that soil depth and lack of vegetation cover play a critical role in the transport water towards the soil–bedrock interface. We also calculate that, on average, around 9.5% (~34.5 mm) of the accumulated precipitation may contribute to the recharge of the aquifer at the hillslope sites. Information about θ in a mountain block is essential for describing the dynamics and movement of water into the thin soil profile and its relation to potential groundwater recharge. View Full-Text
Keywords: soil moisture; ecohydrology; aspect; semiarid hydrology; mountain block soil moisture; ecohydrology; aspect; semiarid hydrology; mountain block
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Del Toro-Guerrero, F.J.; Vivoni, E.R.; Kretzschmar, T.; Bullock Runquist, S.H.; Vázquez-González, R. Variations in Soil Water Content, Infiltration and Potential Recharge at Three Sites in a Mediterranean Mountainous Region of Baja California, Mexico. Water 2018, 10, 1844.

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