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When you dig a hole, where does the dirt go?

  1. Sep 18, 2004 #1
    Have you ever noticed that most of the time, when you dig a hole, there isn't enough dirt to fill it back up? Where did it go? I know there are those who say the phase of the Moon has something to do with it, but regardless, where did the dirt go?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 18, 2004 #2
    I've never dug a hole and not had enough dirt to fill it back up.
     
  4. Sep 18, 2004 #3
    The dirt gets blown away by the wind on a windy day. On a calm day, the dirt gets carried away by little ants which function based on the phase of the Moon. Oh, wait a minute...forget my answers; I thought this was the debunking forum. :blushing: :tongue2:
     
  5. Sep 18, 2004 #4
    before you dug the dirt was like a single "block". If you take a pot and fill it to the top with whole potatotes and count them you will see that if you cut the potatotes into pieces you end up with left over space.
     
  6. Sep 18, 2004 #5

    Moonbear

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    You know, I've run into this problem too and it has always baffled me. I dig a hole into compacted soil (the hard stuff to dig in), stick a plant of some sort in the hole, including roots and the soil it was potted in, and fully expect there to be dirt at least in excess of the amount of soil added from the pot the plant was in, and can never seem to find it all. Now, a little soil I know just winds up scattered into the surroundings that I just can't scoop up, and that amount will depend on how wide I made my initial pile of dirt, but this never seems to account for the fact that I wind up still needing more soil to fill in around my plant! And when I do have excess soil, the amount of excess soil left seems inversely proportional to the available space for inconspicuously scattering that excess.

    Oh, but we can't forget to account for the dirt that winds up caked onto your clothing or filling up your shoes. Surprisingly, this too is inversely proportional to the surface area of your body...an amazing amount of soil can adhere to the body and clothing of a small child. The same rule applies to the usage of flour in the kitchen.

    However, clearly the problem is you are digging holes just to fill them back up again. You won't run into as much of a problem if you put something new into the hole you are digging. If you'd like to test this theory, I can provide the fence posts and soil you can dig holes in. :biggrin:
     
  7. Sep 18, 2004 #6
    Sorry, we're still working on the problem of where socks go after we put them in the dryer.
     
  8. Sep 18, 2004 #7

    Evo

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    Darn why didn't I think of that? :rofl:
     
  9. Sep 18, 2004 #8
    Perhaps you could test it by scooping dirt into a non-filterable pail (make sure the dirt doesnt come off the shovel) and then pouring the pail back into the hole. But unfortunately even that has its quips, reshuffling the dirt around will distort its original compacted shape and will probably leave a few gaps here and there.
     
  10. Sep 18, 2004 #9
    Have you not noticed the same kind of phenomenon with artichoke ? At the end, there is more food than in the beginning ! I always prefered to ignore this, it so puzzling.
     
  11. Sep 19, 2004 #10

    Janitor

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    One of the more fascinating events in my neighborhood when I was a tyke was the conversion of all the residences from septic tanks to new sewerline. All kinds of neat activity involving backhoes, cement mixers, and tar vats heated by gas burners took place under my watchful eye. I still remember Pa saying, "You will see that when they push the dirt back into the trench running down the alley, they will have dirt left over, and they will have to haul it away in dump trucks." Sure enough, he was right.

    It seems that Arizona dirt works the opposite way from your dirt. (The newly-placed vitrified clay sewer pipe would have taken up some of the volume, I will grant you. But not much.)
     
  12. Sep 19, 2004 #11

    Moonbear

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    Well, once the gremlins have plundered the dirt from our holes, they have to put it somewhere, and since they all live in Arizona, that's a logical place for it. :tongue2:
     
  13. Sep 19, 2004 #12
    Does this mean we are going to run out of dirt!?
    Conserve dirt for a dirtier tomorrow!
     
  14. Sep 19, 2004 #13

    Janitor

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    That reminds me of a news story from the 1980s. A "sludge train" from New York City was driving around the country trying to find some district that would accept the semi-processed sewage. A place in Arizona finally took on the task.
     
  15. Sep 19, 2004 #14
    Let's assume that you get every single particle of dirt back into the hole that you dug. The dirt might not fill it up exactly because you probably have packed it tighter than it was before you dug the hole, so that the same amount dirt now takes up less space.
     
  16. Sep 19, 2004 #15

    Moonbear

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    Nah, once they discover the excess in Arizona, the gremlin mafia has a trucking arrangement in place that they charge the people in Arizona to take the excess away, and then charge those of us elsewhere to dump it back in our yards. :biggrin:
     
  17. Sep 20, 2004 #16

    Phobos

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    Not enough dirt to backfill? Odd. I usually experience the opposite (extra dirt leftover). Must be related to latitude. :wink:

    In the construction biz, a "fluff factor" of 10% is usually expected (because when you dig it up, you are un-compacting it).
     
  18. Sep 20, 2004 #17

    Moonbear

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    Yep, this is why I am so baffled. I never had this problem when made to dig various holes for my parents, it was usually what you described, the dirt was fluffed up, so always in excess, even after stomping on it for a while. I've had this happen several times though while digging holes in my own yard. I'm tellin' ya, it's that gremlin dirt mafia! Maybe it has to do with the number of chipmunk holes/tunnels in the yard? I have lots of chipmunk tunnels through the flower bed where I run into the problem the most, so maybe I'm just filling up their holes in addition to my own. The earthworms are never thrilled with my digging either (I have lots of them, and wind up with a lot of halves of earthworms when I'm done digging :yuck: ). Then again, I don't know where the dirt from the chipmunk holes goes either. There's never a mound of dirt near the opening of their holes either, just a hole.
     
  19. Sep 22, 2004 #18

    jimmy p

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    Welcome back timejim!!! Piles are the natural enemies of holes.
     
  20. Sep 22, 2004 #19
    Dirt comes to my house to stay with its friends. :smile: (We're are not much at housekeeping.)
     
  21. Sep 22, 2004 #20

    NoTime

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    It eats them.

    I have had to do major surgery on washers that have choked on a sock or otherwise could not digest it.
    Dryers have better digestive systems than washers.
    Occasionally you will find a partially digested sock in a dryer that became ill for other reasons.


    On that dirt thing.
    I always end up with too much dirt. :rofl:
     
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