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This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 61 No. 6, p. 1555-1563
    Received: Dec 6, 1996
    Published: Nov, 1997

    * Corresponding author(s):


Determining the Hydraulic Properties of a Swelling Soil from a Transient Evaporation Experiment

  1. P. Garnier,
  2. M. Rieu ,
  3. P. Boivin,
  4. M. Vauclin and
  5. P. Baveye
  1. Laboratoire d'Hydrophysique, ORSTOM, 32, Avenue Henri Varagnat, 93143 Bondy Cedex, France
    ORSTOM, 213 Rue Lafayette, 75480 Paris Cedex, France
    ORSTOM Hann, BP 1346, Dakar, Senegal
    Laboratoire d'Etude des Transferts en Hydrologie et Environnement, LTHE, UMR (CNRS, INPG, UJF), BP 53, 38041 Grenoble Cedex 9, France
    Lab. of Environmental Geophysics, Bradfield Hall, Cornell Univ., Ithaca, NY



Most methods used to determine the hydraulic properties of swelling soils (i.e., the shrinkage curve [e(θ)], the moisture retention curve [h(θ)], and the hydraulic conductivity curve [K(θ)]) are time consuming because they require measurements of several different parameters (either in separate experiments or by using very expensive equipment). We propose a simple evaporation experiment to simultaneously determine all three soil hydraulic properties. The method is illustrated using samples of a Vertisol from the Senegal River valley. The value of e(θ) is determined during the experiment by horizontal and vertical linear deformation measurements, whereas an inverse parameter estimation method is used to determine h(θT) and K(θ). This method relies on a water flow model that takes into account the three-dimensional and anisotropic deformation of the soil. The reliability of the estimated parameter values was checked and we compared the results with those obtained by a multistep outflow experiment. Good agreement was found between the results of the different procedures. The sensitivity of the method to deformation was also analyzed. In the soil investigated, the inverse method does not seem to require the use of a water flow model that takes into account deformation. However, a correction for deformation is needed if the characteristic functions are sought in terms of the volumetric water content of the soil.

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