The indirect estimation of saturated hydraulic conductivity of soils, using measurements of gas permeability. I. Laboratory testing with dry granular soils

T. Wells, S. Fityus, David Smith, H. Moe

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    7 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    A comprehensive knowledge of soil hydraulic conductivity is essential when modelling the distribution of soil moisture within soil profiles and across catchments. The high spatial variability of soil hydraulic conductivity, however, necessitates the taking of many in situ measurements, which are costly, time-consuming, and labour-intensive. This paper presents an improved method for indirectly determining the saturated hydraulic conductivity of granular materials via an in situ gas flow technique. The apparatus employed consists of a cylindrical tube which is embedded in the soil to a prescribed depth. Nitrogen at a range of pressures was supplied to the tube and allowed to escape by permeating through the soil. A 3-dimensional, axisymmetric, steady-state, finite element flow model was then used to determine the value of the soil intrinsic gas permeability which produces the best fit to the pressure–air flow data. Saturated hydraulic conductivities estimated from the application of the gas flow technique to 5 granular soils covering a wide range of permeabilities were in close agreement with values determined using a conventional permeameter. The results of this preliminary study demonstrate the potential of this approach to the indirect determination of saturated hydraulic conductivity based on measurement of gas flow rates in granular and structured soils.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)719-725
    JournalAustralian Journal of Soil Research
    Volume44
    Issue number7
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2006

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