Various methods have been proposed for the extraction of large, undisturbed soil cores and for subsequent analysis of fluid movement within the cores. The major problems associated with these methods are expense, cumbersome field extraction, and inadequate simulation of unsaturated flow conditions. A field and laboratory procedure is presented that is economical, convenient, and simulates unsaturated and saturated flow without interface flow problems and can be used on a variety of soil types. In the field, a stainless steel core barrel is hydraulically pressed into the soil (30-cm diam. and 38 cm high), the barrel and core are extracted from the soil, and after the barrel is removed from the core, the core is then wrapped securely with flexible sheet metal and a stainless mesh screen is attached to the bottom of the core for support. In the laboratory the soil core is set atop a porous ceramic plate over which a soil-diatomaceous earth slurry has been poured to assure good contact between plate and core. A cardboard cylinder (mold) is fastened around the core and the empty space filled with paraffin wax. Soil cores were tested under saturated and unsaturated conditions using a hanging water column for potentials ???0. Breakthrough curves indicated that no interface flow occurred along the edge of the core. This procedure proved to be reliable for field extraction of large, intact soil cores and for laboratory analysis of solute transport.
Additional publication details
An improved method for field extraction and laboratory analysis of large, intact soil cores