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Capillary Fringe

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Capillary fringe
The capillary fringe is the subsurface layer in which groundwater seeps up from a water table by capillary action to fill pores. Pores at the base of the capillary fringe are filled with water due to tension saturation. This saturated portion of the capillary fringe is less than total capillary rise because of the presence of a mix in pore size. If pore size is small and relatively uniform, it is possible that soils can be completely saturated with water for several feet above the water table. Alternately, the saturated portion will extend only a few inches above the water table when pore size is large. Capillary action supports a vadose zone above the saturated base within which water content decreases with distance above the water table. In soils with a wide range in pore size, the unsaturated zone can be several times thicker than the saturated zone.

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Earth Science Dictionary

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capillary fringe
The lowest part of the zone of aeration, marked by the rising of water from the water table due to the attraction of the water molecules to mineral surfaces and other molecules, and to pressure from the zone of saturation below.


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