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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2024
  2. Abstract

    Two major barriers hinder the holistic understanding of subsurface critical zone (CZ) evolution and its impacts: (a) an inability to measure, define, and share information and (b) a societal structure that inhibits inclusivity and creativity. In contrast to the aboveground portion of the CZ, which is visible and measurable, the bottom boundary is difficult to access and quantify. In the context of these barriers, we aim to expand the spatial reach of the CZ by highlighting existing and effective tools for research as well as the “human reach” of CZ science by expanding who performs such science and who it benefits. We do so by exploring the diversity of vocabularies and techniques used in relevant disciplines, defining terminology, and prioritizing research questions that can be addressed. Specifically, we explore geochemical, geomorphological, geophysical, and ecological measurements and modeling tools to estimate CZ base and thickness. We also outline the importance of and approaches to developing a diverse CZ workforce that looks like and harnesses the creativity of the society it serves, addressing historical legacies of exclusion. Looking forward, we suggest that to grow CZ science, we must broaden the physical spaces studied and their relationships with inhabitants, measure the “deep” CZ and make data accessible, and address the bottlenecks of scaling and data‐model integration. What is needed—and what we have tried to outline—are common and fundamental structures that can be applied anywhere and used by the diversity of researchers involved in investigating and recording CZ processes from a myriad of perspectives.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 1, 2025
  3. Abstract

    Surface topography can influence flow pathways and the location of runoff source areas and water transport in steep headwater catchments. However, the influence of topography on spatial patterns of residual soil moisture is less well understood. We measured soil volumetric water content (VWC) on 14 dates at 0–30 and 30–60 cm depth at 54 sites on a steep, 10 ha north‐facing forested slope in the west‐central Cascades Mountains of Oregon, USA. Spatial patterns in VWC were persistent over time, and contrary to expectations VWC at 30–60 cm depth was greater on divergent than convergent slopes, especially during wet periods (R2 = 0.27,p < 0.001). Vegetation characteristics were assessed for all VWC monitoring locations and soil properties were determined for 13 locations as local factors that affect spatial patterns in VWC. Mean VWC over all dates was negatively correlated to gravimetric rock content (R2 = 0.28,p = 0.03) and positively correlated to water storage at field capacity (R2 = 0.56,p < 0.01). The variability in rock content in quick‐draining soils influenced soil‐water retention, and by extension, created spatially heterogenous but temporally persistent patterns in VWC. While spatial patterns were persistent, they were not easily explained by surficial topography in a steep, mountainous landscape with rocky, well‐drained soils. Further research is needed to understand if combined soil‐terrain metrics would be a more useful proxy for VWC than terrain‐based wetness metrics alone.

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