Physics of water repellent soils

T. W.J. Bauters, T. S. Steenhuis, D. A. Dicarlo, J. L. Nieber, L. W. Dekker, C. J. Ritsema, J. Y. Parlange, R. Haverkamp

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Although it is generally well known that water repellent soils have distinct preferential flow patterns, the physics of this phenomenon is not well understood. In this paper, we show that water repellency affects the soil water contact angle and this, in turn, has a distinct effect on the constitutive relationships during imbibing. Using these constitutive relationships, unstable flow theory developed for coarse grained soils can be used to predict the shape and water content distribution for water repellent soils. A practical result of this paper is that with a basic experimental setup, we can characterize the imbibing front behavior by measuring the water entry pressure and the imbibing soil characteristic curve from the same heat treated soil. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)233-243
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Hydrology
StatePublished - May 29 2000


  • Constitutive relationships
  • Contact angle
  • Fingered flow
  • Infiltration
  • Preferential flow
  • Surfactant

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    Bauters, T. W. J., Steenhuis, T. S., Dicarlo, D. A., Nieber, J. L., Dekker, L. W., Ritsema, C. J., Parlange, J. Y., & Haverkamp, R. (2000). Physics of water repellent soils. Journal of Hydrology, 231-232, 233-243.