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Removal of Saline Water due to Road Salt Applications from Columns of Two Types of Sand by Rainwater Infiltration: Laboratory Experiments and Model Simulations


Mass transport and residence time of saline water from road salt applications in soil columns composed of Toyoura sand and weathered granite sand were investigated by simulations and in laboratory experiments. Both are sands found in Japan, especially the weathered granite sand. The Toyoura sand has a fairly uniform particle size of 0.1 to 0.4 mm diameter, and a saturated hydraulic conductivity Ks = 0.0296 cm/s, while the weathered granite sand used consisted of 13% fine materials (silt and clay) and 87% coarse materials (sand and gravel) with a saturated hydraulic conductivity Ks = 0.00393 cm/s. A model was developed to simulate rinsing of brine from a soil column. Assuming a steady, homogeneous flow induced by rainwater infiltration into the soil column, the model was found to match the experimental results for Toyoura sand very well. The normalized salt concentration in the effluent from the 40 cm tall soil column remained constant until about t = 500 s; the concentration then decreased with time quickly and, finally, approached zero. For the weathered granite sand, however, the salt concentrations in the effluent simulated by the model with assumption of homogeneous flow are inconsistent with the experimental data collected. A substantial delay occurs in mass transport of salt from the column, which is different from the Toyoura sand. The delay is attributed to shifts in “active” and “inactive pores” created in the soil due to fine particles such as silt and clay. The proportion of “active pores” and “inactive pores” is not constant but variable with time due to physical and/or electrochemical processes such as pore-size distributions and salt depletion in the soil. A modified model presented, using a time-variable active pore parameter k(t), can reproduce the experimental results for salt mass left in the soil better.

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C :

concentration of salt (gcm˗3)

D yy :

dispersion coefficient (cm2 s˗1)

g :

gravitational acceleration (9.8 ms˗2)

K e :

effective hydraulic conductivity (cms˗1)

K s :

saturated hydraulic conductivity (cms˗1)

h :

piezometric head (cm)

k :

pore activity parameter

k :

the terminal value of k

l :

the constant (= 0.5)

L :

soil depth (cm)

m :

the constant

n :

the constant

p :

pressure (Nm˗2)

S :

salt concentration trapped in inactive pores (gcm˗3)

t :

time (hour)

v :

velocity of pore water flow (cms˗1)

y :

vertical coordinate (cm)


the constant


water content

θr :

residual water content

θs :

water content at saturation

ρ :

fluid (water) density (gcm˗3)


pressure head (suction) (cm)

λ :

nondimensional time constant


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This work was supported by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (No. 18 K04376). The authors are grateful to this organization for the support.

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Correspondence to Makoto Higashino.

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Higashino, M., Stefan, H.G. & Aso, D. Removal of Saline Water due to Road Salt Applications from Columns of Two Types of Sand by Rainwater Infiltration: Laboratory Experiments and Model Simulations. Water Air Soil Pollut 230, 305 (2019).

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  • Saline water
  • Road salt
  • Japanese soils
  • Weathered granite sand
  • Toyoura sand
  • Rainwater infiltration
  • Pore water flow