Abstract

The ability of simulation models to accurately predict water flow and solute transport in unsaturated soils usually depends on the accuracy of the parametric models used to describe the water retention curve θ(h) and unsaturated hydraulic conductivity Κ(θ). Experiments were conducted to determine θ(h) and Κ(θ) relationships of six different porous media. θ(h) relationships were determined using Haines-type assembly or Richards' pressure cell chambers, depending on the soil type. K(θ) relationships were determined using the one-step outflow method. RETC code was used to analyze hydraulic properties. Experimental data were compared with those predicted by the Mualem-van Genuchten model using RETC for two prediction scenarios with three fitting parameters a, n, θr. The first scenario uses as input data the experimental θ(h) and saturated hydraulic conductivity (Ks) measurements and the second, the experimental θ(h), K(θ) and Ks measurements for two types of conductivity regression analysis. Concerning the second scenario, the Mualem model parameter p as an additional fitting parameter was also examined. Analysis of the results showed that the best method for predicting both the θ(h) and K(θ) relationships is to use simultaneously the experimental θ(h), K(θ) and Ks data with four fitting parameters a, n, θr, p.

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