Water content dependence of trapped air in two soils

Water Resources Research
By:  and 



An improved air pycnometer method was used to examine the water content dependence of trapped-air volumes in two repacked, nonswelling soils. Trapped-air volumes were determined at a series of hydrostatic equilibrium stages which were attained during water pressure-controlled wetting and drying cycles over a range of 0 to −10 kPa for a sand and 0 to −20 kPa for a loam. Small pressure perturbations, between 0.2 and 0.6 kPa, were used in the air pycnometer method. Volumes of trapped air obtained at each hydrostatic equilibrium stage were independent of perturbation level and remained relatively constant over the time required to make repeated determinations. In contrast with most of the results obtained in previous studies, which often showed irregular relations, in this study the volume fraction of trapped air was found to be a regular, monotonically increasing (though possibly hysteretic) function of water content. For the soils studied, the function definitely exceeded zero only at water contents greater than 70% of saturation. However, during the initial drying from complete water saturation, the volume fraction of trapped air was virtually zero. Air trapping influenced the water retention curves significantly only at water contents higher than about 60% of saturation. Except at zero water pressure, however, not all of the differences between the initial and the other drying retention curves were accounted for by observed differences in trapped-air volumes. Air trapping was not required for the onset of hysteresis in the water retention relation for the cases studied, i.e., when drying-to-wetting reversals were imposed at about 27% and 40% of saturation for the sand and loam soils, respectively.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Water content dependence of trapped air in two soils
Series title Water Resources Research
DOI 10.1029/WR025i009p01947
Volume 25
Issue 9
Year Published 1989
Language English
Publisher American Geophysical Union
Description 12 p.
First page 1947
Last page 1958