Some Forests Survive Drought by “Tree Fracking”
Monday, April 9, 2018
Posted by: Jennifer Olivares
The drought that punished California from 2010 to 2015 killed more than 100 million trees, but some in Northern California’s Mendocino County survived just fine. How did they do it? Researchers from the University of Texas at Austin and the University of California, Berkeley, have found that—just like humans fracking oil and gas deposits in shale—tree roots are able to access substantial quantities of water stored in weathered bedrock.
Daniella Rempe, an assistant professor in Department of Geological Sciences at UT Austin, made the discovery through what Rempe calls a “brute force approach”—by drilling nine wells into the bedrock on steep, forested hill slopes in Mendocino County and inserting neutron probes, a very precise tool widely used in petroleum drilling that measures water in an area by detecting hydrogen.