Salt Movement in Disturbed Soils

Nancy Finlayson
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This literature review compiles information on salt movement in disturbed soils, particularly in soils that had been disturbed by pipeline construction. The review had two main objectives: to assess climatic and soil conditions under which salts will move out of the root zone in a disturbed soil and to determine the rate at which salts will move in disturbed soils. A literature base was established using computer database and library searches, and a number of studies were reviewed. Many of them, dealing specifically with salt movement over time in disturbed soils under climate and soil conditions similar to those found in Alberta, are summarized in tabular form. Data found in the literature tended to be sparse and incomplete, making it difficult to draw firm conclusions about rates of salt movement and conditions under which movement takes place. In the Brown Soil Zone, 5 years may be sufficient time for sodium adsorption ratio (SAR) and electrical conductivity (BC) levels, elevated during construction, to return to preconstruction conditions in coarse to moderately coarse textured soils. In medium to moderately fine textured soils, 10 to 26 years may be required to return soil salt content to pre-construction conditions. In the Dark Brown Soil Zone, 5 years appears to be marginal for a return to preconstruction conditions, being sufficient time in some cases, but not in others. Data in the Black Soil Zone were very limited, and results inconsistent. Studies from the U.S. were generally the result of research on mine reclamation. Most reported decreases in salts over relatively short periods of time, but the magnitude of the decrease varied greatly from study to study.