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Title: Field Soil Water Retention of the Prototype Hanford Barrier and Its Variability with Space and Time

Engineered surface barriers are used to isolate underlying contaminants from water, plants, animals, and humans. To understand the flow processes within a barrier and the barrier’s ability to store and release water, the field hydraulic properties of the barrier need to be known. In situ measurement of soil hydraulic properties and their variation over time is challenging because most measurement methods are destructive. A multiyear test of the Prototype Hanford Barrier (PHB) has yielded in situ soil water content and pressure data for a nine-year period. The upper 2 m layer of the PHB is a silt loam. Within this layer, water content and water pressure were monitored at multiple depths at 12 water balance stations using a neutron probe and heat dissipation units. Valid monitoring data from 1995 to 2003 for 4 depths at 12 monitoring stations were used to determine the field water retention of the silt loam layer. The data covered a wide range of wetness, from near saturation to the permanent wilt point, and each retention curve contained 51 to 96 data points. The data were described well with the commonly used van Genuchten water retention model. It was found that the spatial variation of themore » saturated and residual water content and the pore size distribution parameter were relatively small, while that of the van Genuchten alpha was relatively large. The effects of spatial variability of the retention properties appeared to be larger than the combined effects of added 15% w/w pea gravel and plant roots on the properties. Neither of the primary hydrological processes nor time had a detectible effect on the water retention of the silt loam barrier.« less
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Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Vadose Zone Journal, 14(8):Article No. 0011
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Richland, WA (US)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States
surface cover; cap; hysteresis; neutron probe; heat dissipation units (HDUs); barriers; field hydraulic properties