Salinity - Glossary of Terms


Water that moves through the soil profile and into the water table.

Capillary Rise

The process by which evaporation causes groundwater and salts to rise from shallow watertables to the soil surface.

Discharge zone

An area where groundwater is at near surface levels, and may discharge and evaporate.

Electrical Conductivity (EC)

Electrical conductivity is the property of a material to conduct electricity. The ease with which electrical conductivity passes through water is proportional to the salt concentration in the water. Therefore, the higher the EC, the greater the salt concentration.

Electrical Conductivity is an indirect measure of soil salinity, and is currently the most common and rapid method used.

Electrical Conductivity is commonly expressed as Siemens per unit measurement: deciSiemens (dS), milliSiemens (mS) and microSiemens (US).

Electrical Conductivity may also be expressed as Total Dissolved Salts (TDS), measured in terms of Parts Per Million (ppm), or mg/1.


All free water found below the watertable.

Recharge zone

The area of ground where surface water soaks through the soil and accesses the groundwater.


Soil, rock fragments, sand and alluvium etc. which overlies solid rock.


The presence of salts in soil and water. In sufficient quantity, these salts may be detrimental to plants and animals.


Salts are soluble mineral substances present in soil and water. The salts most commonly found affecting Tasmania soil and water are: Sodium Chloride, Magnesium Chloride and Calcium Chloride.

Soil Water

Water bound to soil particles in the unsaturated zone above the watertable.


The upper surface of groundwater, below which all material is saturated.