Geotechnical and Geological Engineering

, Volume 29, Issue 2, pp 161–169 | Cite as

Influence of Unsaturated Soil Properties Uncertainty on Moisture Flow Modeling

  • H. B. Dye
  • S. L. Houston
  • B. D. Welfert
Original paper


The quality of a numerical modeling solution of moisture flow through unsaturated soil, in part, depends on properly described unsaturated soil properties. The variability of the Soil Water Characteristic Curve, SWCC, is attributed to hysteresis and reproducibility of measurement. Because the unsaturated conductivity function is rarely directly measured, the variability of the unsaturated soil hydraulic conductivity function is attributed to the uncertainty associated with the estimation of this parameter with currently available fitting functions, and hence a range of reasonable variation was considered. One-dimensional modeling of expansive soil under dry initial conditions (suction of 1,500 kPa) was performed; both potential evaporation and infiltration boundary conditions were considered. It was found that small variations in the unsaturated soil hydraulic conductivity function result in significantly different modeling outputs, as expected, while substential variation in SWCC alone (assuming the same unsaturated soil hydraulic conductivity for all SWCCs) produced almost identical soil response in terms of soil suction when the slope of the SWCC is similiar. Thus, proper characterization of the slope of the SWCC is important to proper suction profile determination.


Unsaturated SWCC Hysteresis Uncertainty Modeling 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Tao EngineeringMesaUSA
  2. 2.School of Sustainability and the Built EnvironmentArizona State UniversityTempeUSA
  3. 3.Deptartment of Mathematics and StatisticsArizona State UniversityTempeUSA

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