Determination of water retention in stratified porous materials

Transport in Porous Media



Predicted and measured water-retention values,θ(ψ), were compared for repacked, stratified core samples consisting of either a sand with a stone-bearing layer or a sand with a clay loam layer in various spatial orientations. Stratified core samples were packed in submersible pressure outflow cells, then water-retention measurements were performed between matric potentials,ψ, of 0 to -100 kPa. Predictions ofθ(ψ) were based on a simple volume-averaging model using estimates of the relative fraction andθ(ψ) values of each textural component within a stratified sample. In general, predictedθ(ψ) curves resembled measured curves well, except at higher saturations in a sample consisting of a clay loam layer over a sand layer. In this case, the model averaged the air-entry of both materials, while the air-entry of the sample was controlled by the clay loam in contact with the cell's air-pressure inlet. In situ, avenues for air-entry generally exist around clay layers, so that the model should adequately predict air-entry for stratified formations regardless of spatial orientation of fine versus coarse layers. Agreement between measured and predicted volumetric water contents,θ, was variable though encouraging, with mean differences between measured and predictedθ values in the range of 10%. Differences inθ of this magnitude are expected due to variability in pore structure between samples, and do not indicate inherent problems with the volume averaging model. This suggets that explicit modeling of stratified formations through detailed characterization of the stratigraphy has the potential of yielding accurateθ(ψ) values. However, hydraulic-equilibration times were distinctly different for each variation in spatial orientation of textural layering, indicating that transient behavior during drainage in stratified formations is highly sensitive to the stratigraphic sequence of textural components, as well as the volume fraction of each textural component in a formation. This indicates that prolonged residence times of water, nutrients, and pollutants are likely within finer-textured layers, whenψ conditions have resulted in drainage of underlying coarser-textured strata.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Determination of water retention in stratified porous materials
Series title Transport in Porous Media
DOI 10.1007/BF00616932
Volume 18
Issue 3
Year Published 1995
Language English
Publisher location Kluwer
Contributing office(s) Toxic Substances Hydrology Program
Description 13 p.
First page 217
Last page 229
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