A pedological study of the reservoir bed of Al-Khoud Dam, Oman, revealed an unusual sedimentation pattern which evolved into an intricate composition of silt blocks surrounded by vertical cracks and horizontal layers filled with a "proppant" sand. The discovered soil morphology reflects the complex topology of water motion (infiltration-seepage-evaporation) through the sand-filled cracks/layers and blocks during both the rare flood events and ensuing periods of ponding, and the long, intervening dry periods. These naturally formed soils demonstrate an ability to preserve a large quantity of water inside the silty blocks at depths of 0.5 to 1.5 m, despite the high temperature and dryness of the topsoil. The hydrological optimality and "smartness" of these soils is attributed to the unique block-crack system. Natural, lush vegetation was found in adjacent zones of the reservoir bed, and acted as a footprint of the shallow "fractured perched aquifer". Planted "ivy" (Convolvulaceae) in the vertical face of one pedon showed intensive growth without irrigation. Soil moisture content data confirmed the hydrological immobility of water in the blocks if not depleted by transpiration. The novel phenomena reported unveil the possible alteration of soil heterogeneity for optimization of the soil-water system in arid zone soils.
- 3D block-fracture composition
- arid zone
- capillary barrier
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Water Science and Technology