Wetland Soils

The wetland soils program studies hydric soils of jurisdictional wetlands as well as soils that have seasonally high water tables within 1 m of the surface. The hydric soils research focuses on how these soils form, and how we can identify them in the field.

Our studies in wet soils, not necessarily wetland soils, develop ways to estimate water table levels in these soils using soil morphology. Research includes monitoring sites with the latest automated equipment, characterizing hydraulic properties of soils, and using hydrologic models to estimate long-term water table fluctuations. These results are then related to soil color patterns so that the colors can be used to estimate long-term hydrology. Research that includes soil morphology in any aspect is led by Mike Vepraskas.

Wetland restoration is a relatively new area of research that we are actively pursuing. Dr. Steve Broome has a long record of experience in coastal wetland restoration to combat shore erosion. More recently, his work has moved inland and is devoted to perfecting ways to establish trees on freshwater wetland sites. Finding ways to evaluate the success of the restoration effort is also a topic that is being actively pursued. We are looking for ways to use redox potential measurements to evaluate restoration success.This area is being led by Mike Vepraskas.

Jeff White uses remote sensing devices to better understand how water moves through wetland systems. Jeff’s interests include the use of ground-penetrating radar to evaluate sediment layers below wetlands, and as well as aerial photography to characterize and compare vegetation between restoration sites and reference areas.

Hydrologic modeling studies are done in cooperation with the NC State Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering (BAE). We use DRAINMOD for long-term simulation of water table levels in the Coastal Plain. MODFLOW is being used to simulate groundwater flows into and out of wetland areas. Dr. Wayne Skaggs (BAE) oversees our work with DRAINMOD. Dr. Rod Huffman (BAE) leads our efforts in computing water budgets for wetlands, and in using MODFLOW to study groundwater movements.

Students interested in any of these topics, or others related to wetlands, should feel free to contact any of the faculty listed above for more information.

Crop and Soil Sciences Research