Journal of Soils and Sediments

, Volume 19, Issue 1, pp 373–380 | Cite as

Analysis of water retention characteristics of oil-polluted earthy materials with different textures based on van Genuchten model

  • Yang Wei
  • Yiquan WangEmail author
  • Jichang Han
  • Miao Cai
  • Kun Zhu
  • Qilong Wang
Soils, Sec 5 • Soil and Landscape Ecology • Research Article



The water retention characteristics of polluted soil systems are affected not only by the properties of the soil (e.g., texture) but also by those of the pollutants. This study aimed to evaluate the effect of oil pollution on the water-holding capacity of earthy materials with different textures.

Materials and methods

Three earthy materials (Lou, Loessial, and Aeolian sandy earthy materials) with different textures were treated with crude oil at five pollution levels (0, 0.5, 1, 2, and 4%). The soil water retention curve (SWRC) obtained for each treated sample was analyzed using the van Genuchten model.

Results and discussion

Oil pollution resulted in lower soil water retention in each case, with a leftward shift of the corresponding SWRC, and led to a decrease in the saturated water content of the earthy material, characterized by a marked increase in incomplete saturation, and a decrease in the residual water content (i.e., irreducible saturation). Oil pollution also determined a marked increase in the slope of the SWRC. The response of the SWRC to oil pollution was significantly influenced by the texture of earthy material, and the saturated water content of all earthy materials was strongly affected by the level of oil pollution. The residual water content of the heavier-textured Lou earthy material was also strongly affected by the oil pollution level, but no clear influence was found for the lighter-textured Loessial or Aeolian sandy earthy materials. The SWRC slope of the Aeolian sandy earthy material was sensitive to oil pollution, unlike those of the Lou and Loessial earthy materials.


Oil pollution reduced the water-holding capacity of different earthy materials to an extent depending on the soil texture. Under low-suction conditions, a significant effect of oil pollution on earthy materials of different texture was generally observed, while under high-suction conditions, the effect of oil pollution was greater for heavier-textured earthy materials.


Oil pollution Saturated water content Soil texture Water-holding capacity 



Soil water retention curve

V-G model

van Genuchten model


Funding information

This study was supported by the Research Project of Shaanxi Provincial Land Engineering Construction Group (DJNY2018-17).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Resources and EnvironmentNorthwest A&F UniversityYanglingChina
  2. 2.Shaanxi Provincial Land Engineering Construction Group Co., Ltd.Xi’anChina

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