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Soil Water - Characteristics and Behaviour

Soil Water - Characteristics and Behaviour

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Published by: Savannah Simone Petrachenko on Dec 05, 2011
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06/07/2014

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Soil Water: Characteristics and Behaviour
Water is Cool
 
It’s the molecular structure of water that allows it to influence so
many soil processes.
o
 
It consists of one oxygen atom and two hydrogen atoms. Butit is how they bond that is so interesting
these elements arebonded covalently, with each hydrogen sharing its singleelectron with the oxygen.
o
 
But these are not arranged linearly (H-O-H). Instead, theyhydrogen atoms are aligned in a V-shape with the oxygenatom, at a 105° angle.
o
 
That is, they are asymmetrical.
Water’s Polarity
 
 
It means that the water molecule exhibits polarity.
o
 
The charges are not evenly distributed around the molecule.
o
 
The side on which the hydrogen atoms are located tends tobe electropositive.
o
 
The side without the hydrogen atoms tends to beelectronegative.
 
This explains how water molecules interact with each other.
o
 
Each water molecule does not act independently but rather iscoupled with other neighbouring molecules.
 
o
 
The hydroge3n (positive side) of the molecule attracts theoxygen (negative side) of another molecule resulting in achain-like (polymer) grouping.
 
Polarity also explains why water molecules are attracted toelectrostatically charged ions and to colloidal surfaces.
o
 
Cations such as H+, Na+, Ca2+ all become hydrated throughtheir attraction to the oxygen (negative) side of watermolecules.
o
 
Negatively charged clay surfaces attract water, attracting thehydrogen (positive) side to them.
o
 
Polarity of water also encourages the dissolution of salts asthe ionic components of salts have a greater attraction forwater molecules than for each other.
Water’s Hydrogen Bonding
 
 
A hydrogen atom may be shared between two electronegativeatoms such as O and N, forming a relatively low-energy link.
o
 
This is called
hydrogen bonding
.
o
 
This is the process through which neighbouring watermolecules are attracted.
o
 
It also accounts for the high boiling point, specific heat andviscosity of water.
o
 
It is responsible for the structural rigidity of some claycrystals and for the structure of some organic compounds,such as proteins.
 
Hydrogen bonding accounts for two basic forces responsible forwater retention and movement in the soil:
cohesion
and
adhesion
.
o
 
Cohesion describes the attraction of water molecules for eachother.
o
 
Adhesion describes the attraction of water molecules to solidsurfaces.
 
o
 
Together the forces of cohesion and adhesion make it possiblefor soil solids to retain water and control its movement in thesoil and use.
o
 
It also explains the plasticity of clays.
Cohesion
 
 Adhesion

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