A dye tracing experiment was conducted at the Classen site in the La Salle River watershed on June 8th, 2015. Blue dye was applied to two plots and soil profiles were excavated three days later to reveal the flow pathways present in the thick clay soils of the area. After getting covered in blue dye and a few blisters later, we were able to capture many photos of the stained soil profiles, which will be analyzed to determine the dominant flow processes.
Here is a quick video summarizing the experiment:
The experiment was planned and led by summer student Matthew Walker. Matthew also benefited from the help of fellow summer students Aaron Desilets, Brendan Brooks, Laura Blunden and PhD student Kokulan Vivekananthan for the dye application and soil profile excavation. Stay tuned for the results of the blue-dyed soil profile analysis.
Summer students Madison Hutchinson and Laura Blunden have been sampling surface water in the La Salle River Watershed throughout the summer! This work was done as a collaboration between the Watershed Systems Research Program, the LaSalle Redboine conservation District and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. All samples – collected weekly – will be analyzed for nutrients as well as stable water isotopes. Laura and Madison are pictured below at three of the sampling sites near Elie, West of Elie and Sanford.
Here is a quick update on our work in the Catfish Creek Watershed, near Pine Falls, MB, Canada: Cody Ross, MSc student, is currently conducting dye tracing experiments to assess the relative importance of overland flow and subsurface flow in the establishment of riparian-stream connectivity. The Catfish Creek Watershed is characterized by a near even mix of agricultural and forest land, and it is dominated by a large network of municipal and provincially controlled drains. This watershed is extremely responsive to snowmelt and rainfall events, which makes it a great candidate to conduct this kind of study. Want to see it for yourself? Check out two quick time-lapses compiled from field camera photographs captured at two locations within the watershed: a small stream flowing through a forested riparian area, and a man-made drain flowing through a grassland riparian area.
The Watershed Systems Research Program (WSRP) team had the great pleasure to host Merrin Macrae (University of Waterloo) for a 2-day visit on June 4-5, 2014. Merrin gave a seminar while she was here and provided us with a good overview of tile drainage impacts on hydrology and biogeochemistry from her network of Ontario sites. Merrin is initiating a new project in Manitoba through which she will be investigating surface and subsurface runoff and associated nutrient export through a system of surface drains, tile drains and retention ponds in the Red River Valley. The chosen site for this new research project is the Carl Classen’s farm in La Salle Redboine Conservation District, and Merrin had the opportunity to meet with the Classens while refining her plans for instrumentation and fieldwork. Merrin’s project will be done in collaboration with MCDA (Manitoba Conservation District Association) and the WSRP, and it is partly funded by the Lake Winnipeg Basin Stewardship Fund (LWBSF).
Merrin and some members of our group in the La Salle River Watershed
Section of the Classen farm underlain by tile drains
Small pond collecting water from the tile drain outlets
Larger pond used to store water pumped from the smaller pond
With May upon us, the snowmelt has finally arrived at the Catfish Creek Watershed, and with it the 2014 field season. The past two weeks have brought the bulk of the freshet, straining our in-stream instruments and overtopping wells that are usually intended for measuring depth below the ground surface to the perched water table. In a couple of weeks when the water recedes we will be able to download data from our (hopefully still intact) water level loggers to get an idea of exactly what magnitude of runoff event was produced by the melt of this year’s deeper-than-normal snow pack. Until then, the Catfish Creek crew will be visiting the area every few days to take water samples for nutrient analysis, monitor conditions, and perform emergency equipment replacements should anything wash away.
What a difference a few weeks make! On the left, field research assistant Nicole is bundled up in preparation for a day of snow pack surveying, less than one month ago. At this point, the snow pack was extensive and had not yet begun to melt (centre). But by the end of April, the same sod fields that were once snow covered (beyond the drain, along the horizon) are now water logged (right).
Freeze-up came at the end of November in Catfish Creek Watershed, bringing a close to the 2013 field season. Water and weather monitoring instruments not designed for extreme low temperatures or in danger of being drifted over by snow were removed from the watershed through the month of November. In total, 26 perched water table level loggers, 13 in-stream water level loggers, 2 automated water samplers and 1 weather station will get to spend the winter months in the warmth of the University of Manitoba lab; awaiting early spring re-deployment.
Removal of the most remote water monitoring equipment began in late fall.
Amber removes perched groundwater level loggers from wells.
This weather station was in danger of being completely engulfed by a snow drift if left in place over winter – after only a week of snow cover, the snowpack was already deep in this location.
It is very exciting to simulate rainfall and follow the water through different soil and bedrock layers… especially when the water is blue! Lauren Timlick successfully led a rainfall simulation and dye tracing experiment in the Steppler Watershed (South-Central Manitoba) on June 25th, 2013.
Lauren’s summer project focuses on subsurface flow patterns, especially preferential flow pathways in clay-rich soil horizons and friable shale bedrock layers above the Manitoba escarpment. Thanks to a set-up including a constant-head rainfall simulator, brilliant blue dye, a continuously recording soil moisture profiler and a time-lapse camera, Lauren was able to capture significant spatial heterogeneity in vertical and lateral subsurface flow pathways. Lauren’s “smurf” look was a nice bonus that provided nourishing laughter throughout the experiment!