Water repellency by laboratory burning of four northern Rocky Mountain forest soils
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Peter R. Robichaud; Roger D. Hungerford
Publication Year: 2000

Cataloging Information

  • Abies grandis
  • Adiantum pedatum
  • Asarum caudatum
  • ash
  • Clintonia uniflora
  • experimental fires
  • fire exclusion
  • fire intensity
  • fire management
  • heat
  • hydrology
  • Idaho
  • laboratory fires
  • national forests
  • Pseudotsuga menziesii
  • sampling
  • site treatments
  • soil management
  • soil moisture
  • soil organic matter
  • soil temperature
  • soils
  • temperature
  • Thuja plicata
  • water
  • water repellent soils
  • wildfires
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: March 16, 2021
FRAMES Record Number: 38279
Tall Timbers Record Number: 12858
TTRS Location Status: In-file
TTRS Call Number: Fire File
TTRS Abstract Status: Fair use, Okay, Reproduced by permission

This bibliographic record was either created or modified by the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy and is provided without charge to promote research and education in Fire Ecology. The E.V. Komarek Fire Ecology Database is the intellectual property of the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.


Highly variable water repellent soil conditions have been reported after forest fires. We examined interactions among heating, soil water content and soil texture on water repellency. Undisturbed, 305 mm diameter cores were collected in the field from four soils commonly referred to as ash-cap, mixed ash-cap, no ash-cap and granitic soils. Three artificial burning treatments and a control (no heat) and two soil water contents were evaluated under laboratory conditions. Twenty water drops were placed on each soil layer starting at the surface and continuing at 10 mm intervals to a depth of 70 mm; and the times to infiltrate were recorded. The dry control treatment was more water repellent than the wet control treatment. The dry, low heat treatment was the most repellent, 10-20 mm below the soil surface with mean water drop penetration times greater than 60 s. Repellency decreased as the heating increased. In wet soils of the high heat treatment, a water repellent layer was generally detected 30-50 mm below the soil surface. Presumably, hydrophobic substances were translocated along the temperature gradient which cooled at depth (<50 mm) causing condensation on the soil particles. Water repellency after prescribed fire would probably be minimal because long heating times are not common. Published by Elsevier Science B.V.

Robichaud, P. R., and R. D. Hungerford. 2000. Water repellency by laboratory burning of four northern Rocky Mountain forest soils. Journal of Hydrology, v. 231, p. 207-219.