Research at the Susquehanna Shale Hills CZO (SSHCZO) has shown that mineral reactions catalyzed by biota and water in the subsurface create patterns in the distribution of permeability. To understand these processes, we need to find ways to measure the presence and flow of water simultaneously with the presence and activity of microbiota. In this project, we are using innovative sensors and techniques to measure and understand the biotic redox reactions that affect the pathways where water flows in the subsurface, and relate these reactions to feedbacks controlling soil formation.
Using novel deployments, we are exploring where and when biogeochemical reactions are occurring and how they relate to zones of lateral water flow in the SSHCZO. In March, 2019 we deployed, at two locations in the SSHCZO, new electrodes that measure real-time microbial respiratory activity (via chronoamperometry) in soils. We also installed an array of 50 3-component nodal seismometers and 150 electrodes for electrical resistivity measurements to enable time-lapse imaging for elucidating changes in perched water and water-caused dilation to depths of ~10 m.
Brantley, S.L., Nyblade, A., Regan, J., Forsythe, B., Hodges, C., Kaye, J. (2019): EAGER SitS: Emergent Properties during Soil Formation at the Susquehanna Shale Hills Critical Zone Observatory. NSF/DARPA/ARPA-E Signals in the Soil Conference in the National Science Foundation, Alexandria, Virginia.