DiBiase et al., 2016

Talk/Poster

Quantifying the spatial variability in critical zone architecture through surface mapping and near-surface geophysics (Invited)

DiBiase, R., Del Vecchio, J., Mount, G., Hayes, J.L., Comas, X., Guo, L., Lin, H., Zarif, F., Forsythe, B., and Brantley, S.L. (2016)
2016 Fall Meeting, American Geophysical Union, San Francisco, CA, 12-16 Dec.  

Abstract

The composition and structure of Earth’s surface and shallow subsurface control the flux of water, solutes, and sediment from hillslopes into rivers. Additionally, bedrock weathering profiles and the stratigraphy of soil and colluvium preserve a record of past surface processes. However, landscapes often exhibit heterogeneity in critical zone architecture that is difficult to capture with remote sensing and costly to characterize through direct measurement in soil pits or drill cores. Here we present results from a multifaceted approach to quantifying spatial variability in critical zone architecture using airborne lidar topography, surface mapping, and a suite of geophysical surveys. We focus on Garner Run, a first order sandstone catchment in the Susquehanna Shale Hills Critical Zone Observatory situated in the valley and ridge province of central Pennsylvania, 80 km southwest of the last glacial maximum ice limit. Results from lidar topographic analysis and detailed mapping of surface cover (e.g., soil versus boulder-mantled) reveal a pattern of relict periglacial landforms and deposits that vary depending on slope position and aspect. Additionally, a drill core taken from an unchanneled valley at the head of Garner Run indicates at least 9 meters of alternating sand- and boulder-rich colluvial fill sourced from adjacent hillslopes, indicating the potential preservation of multiple cycles of periglacial climate conditions. Through the use of shallow geophysical techniques, including cross-valley transects of seismic refraction, multiple frequency ground-penetrating radar (GPR), and electrical resistivity tomography (ERT), we image spatial patterns in subsurface architecture at a range of scales (10-1,000 m), and high spatial resolution (cm). Notably, despite challenging environmental conditions, there is agreement among diverse subsurface methods in highlighting aspect-dependent controls on weathering zone thickness that furthermore can be directly connected to the spatial heterogeneity of surface cover mapped in the catchment. Our study exemplifies how multidisciplinary approaches such as surface mapping, drilling, and near-surface geophysical methods can be used to understand the critical zone across spatial scales and can efficiently inform models of critical zone structure.

Citation

DiBiase, R., Del Vecchio, J., Mount, G., Hayes, J.L., Comas, X., Guo, L., Lin, H., Zarif, F., Forsythe, B., and Brantley, S.L. (2016): Quantifying the spatial variability in critical zone architecture through surface mapping and near-surface geophysics (Invited). 2016 Fall Meeting, American Geophysical Union, San Francisco, CA, 12-16 Dec..

This Paper/Book acknowledges NSF CZO grant support.