Water and solute movement in soil as influenced by macropore characteristics - 2. Macropore tortuosity

S. E. Allaire-Leung, Satish C Gupta, J. F. Moncrief

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42 Scopus citations


The paper describes the results of a laboratory study on the effects of macropore tortuosity on breakthrough curves BTCs and solute distribution in a Forman loam (fine loamy-mixed Udic Haploborolls) soil. BTC were obtained using 2-D columns (slab) containing artificial macropores of five different tortuosity levels. The BTCs were run under a constant hydraulic head of 0.08 m over an initially air dry soil. The input solutions contained 1190 mg l-1 of potassium bromide, 10 mg l-1 of Rhodamine WT, and 100 mg l-1 of FD and C Blue 1. A soil column without macropores served as a control. The displacement of a non-adsorbed tracer was not affected by the tortuosity level. An increase in macropore tortuosity progressively increased the breakthrough time, increased the apparent retardation coefficient (R'), decreased the depth to the center of mass of a given adsorbed tracer, and increased the anisotropy in tracer distribution profile. The relative importance of macropore tortuosity increased with an increase in the adsorption coefficient of the tracer. Compared to macropore continuity, the macropore tortuosity had greater impact on solute distribution profile than in its leaching.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)303-315
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Contaminant Hydrology
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Feb 15 2000

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2009 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Breakthrough curve
  • Dye tracing
  • Preferential flow
  • Retardation factor


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