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Solute drag can be described by Stoke’s law, and the influence of solute drag on flow may be ignored because of the small percentage of pore volume that occurs in the solute drag regime. Solute drag enters the transient stage of ponded infiltration in relatively later stages and is influenced by redox reactions involving iron, manganese, and sulfur, as well as by the residual components of the reactive layer. In natural and engineered soil, interfacial tension is a force that is a function of soil particle surface area per unit volume and plays a significant role in the redistribution of pore water within a soil. As a result, interfacial tension influences flow in the transient stage of ponded infiltration because it alters the magnitude of the suction gradient in the soil. The influence of interfacial tension on flow will be discussed in greater detail in the chapter on soil and water systems .
The mechanical stage of infiltration requires movement of water through small openings (or cracks) in the soil. The hydraulic conductivity through small openings (or cracks) in soils and other materials, such as rock, depends on the pore size distribution in the water-saturated material and the orientation of the openings (or cracks). Water tends to flow across permeable surfaces in the same direction as the applied force. Soil hydraulic conductivity decreases with increasing soil thickness. The absolute value of the hydraulic conductivity in a soil or other material is a function of the pore size distribution. If the openings (or cracks) in a soil or other material are vertical, the hydraulic conductivity is referred to as vertical conductivity or vertical permeability. If openings or cracks are horizontal, the hydraulic conductivity is referred to as horizontal conductivity or horizontal permeability. Horizontal conductivity dominates in large homogeneous soil layers.