Modeling of unstable flow in a field soil having a hydrophobic layer

H. V. Nguyen, J. L. Nieber, C. J. Ritsema, L. W. Dekker, T. S. Steenhuis, D. Misra

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


One mechanism for the initiation of unstable flow in porous media is a condition of hydrophobicity of the porous media. Recent continuous and nondestructive measurements of water content distribution in a 2.0 m wide by 0.7 m deep trench of the Netherlands field soil containing a hydrophobic layer, reveals a complicated wetting pattern with fingered flow being quite prevalent. In this presentation we show our attempts to simulate the unstable flow pattern observed in the field using a numerical solution developed for modeling gravity driven fingered flow. The unstable flow simulation method employs a globally mass conservative finite element solution of the Richards equation applied to the soil trench. The overall unstable flow patterns of simulated saturation were similar to those of observed saturation. Statistical analysis show that the predicted saturation is close to observed saturation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPaper - American Society of Agricultural Engineers
StatePublished - 1997
EventProceedings of the 1997 ASAE Annual International Meeting. Part 1 (of 3) - Minneapolis, MN, USA
Duration: Aug 10 1997Aug 14 1997


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