The investigation of a few hydrological processes under natural conditions can be distorted by their interactions. In this context, a laboratory system that allows a few mechanisms of the infiltration process to be studied univocally is presented. The core component of the system is a physical model consisting of a soil tank with slope angle, γ, adjustable from 1 ° to 15 °. A generator of artificial rainfall can produce rainfall rates up to 50 mm h−1. Surface runoff and deep flow, Qd, are continuously monitored. An overall analysis of three previous investigations performed by the physical system and directed to clarify the infiltration process is also briefly reported. These investigations, that concerned the validation of a local conceptual model for erratic rainfalls, the role of run-on and the effects of sloping soil surfaces, were all carried out by using different configurations of the system. Great slope effects in bare soils were observed. For example, under steady conditions, a ratio Qd(γ = 1°) / Qd(γ = 10°) equal to about 4 was observed in a loam soil. Finally, on the basis of the acquired knowledge, further investigations to be realized with the same basic elements are proposed to derive a conceptual model that describes the soil surface gradient effects.

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