Does anyone know of any empirical studies showing a correlation between disturbance of water tables and tree health? I’m specifically interested in the limestone formations/ clay soils like the Eastern US Appalachian range (underground “tabletops” of bedrock at differing layers).
Over the years, I have seen many instances of sudden mature tree die-offs on parcels of ground (usually about 10-50 acre size), and have been told that these are usually the results of a fracturing of the bedrock slab beneath them (usually by wells, sewers, blasting etc) which causes the underground water trapped on a relatively high table top to drain out. I just saw another another instance of this several days ago, on a property which had geothermal wells recently installed…
I believe this phenomena is true, but would love to have the data to back it up.
I’ve noticed the same thing in Appalachian mountain areas and even lower coastal plain areas where grade changes and the construction of basements likely affected the level of the water table. When trees are mature and have spent most of their life with a source of water at a level where they’ve put most of their roots, they’re not going to make it when that water level is suddenly changed. Have you checked the journal of the International Society of Arboriculture? Hopefully they have an online search tool for the back issues. I think its highly likely that a study as you describe has been done. For years I worked in an office where they had a subscription, and these were the kinds of issues they would cover. Seemed like any issue affecting tree health was covered.