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Soil cover systems are an integral part of a mine reclamation program and are increasing in area. Knowledge of temperatures and thermal properties in the cover system provide important information regarding the energy balance, thermal regime, as well as preliminary insight into soil water content. Cover system temperatures and thermal properties are measured at a small number of vertically intensive profiles. Current methods do not provide any information as to the spatial variation of temperatures and thermal properties at scales other than the point scale. The objective of this study was to investigate the spatial scaling of thermal properties in reclamation cover systems. A distributed temperature sensing (DTS) system was installed in three cover systems of various textures and configurations. Semivariogram analysis demonstrated that on a 40 m slope consisting of mineral soil over sand (Site #1) soil temperatures did not exhibit any spatial structure, due to the presence of vegetation. A 100 m cover system comprised of a structureless sand (Site #2) was confirmed to be spatially uniform through semivariogram analysis. Semivariograms at Site #2 displayed secondary structure that corresponded to the 65 m plateau and 35 m slope. Site #3 consisted of a uniform peat and a 2% slope. Spatial structure was non-existent at Site #3 and was attributed to the unique thermal properties of peat that magnified the effect of microtopography on the surface energy balance. A method to estimate apparent thermal inertia (ATI) using DTS measurements at the soil surface was developed. Apparent thermal inertia was found to be less uncertain than the current standard apparent thermal diffusivity. The ATI method was determined to be the preferred method as it was related to soil water content and not prone to estimation errors due to imprecise depth measurement. The spatial scaling properties of a 236 m cover system (Site #3) were investigated using estimations of ATI. Measurements were taken every meter along the transect for bulk density, elevation, air-dried thermal conductivity and air-dried volumetric heat capacity. The dominant scale of variation in ATI was not related to physical or thermal properties, which tended towards the 3 m scale (bulk density and thermal conductivity) or the 108 m and field scale trend (elevation and volumetric heat capacity). The dominant scale of variation in ATI shifted between 30 m and the field scale trend and was related to water content as represented by the soil matric potential. A dry cover system tended to homogenize thermal property distribution, leading to a dominance of the 108 m and field scale trend. Wetter days led to a shift to the 30 m scale, with intermediate days showing a mix in scale dominance. Information on thermal property spatial scaling properties of cover systems can be used to optimally design monitoring systems that measure at the same scale as that which the cover is performing. Characterizing the spatial variability of the system will lead to better cover system designs and ultimately a more sustainable system.



Distributed temperature sensing, mine waste, cover systems, soil, spatial variability, thermal properties



Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


School of Environment and Sustainability


Environment and Sustainability


Si, Bing
Barbour, Lee


Bedard-Haughn, Angela;Maule, Charles;Helgason, Warren;Simonson, Carey


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