Influence of Unsaturated Soil Properties Uncertainty on Moisture Flow Modeling

H. B. Dye, Sandra Houston, Bruno Welfert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)161-169
Number of pages9
JournalGeotechnical and Geological Engineering
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2011


  • Hysteresis
  • Modeling
  • SWCC
  • Uncertainty
  • Unsaturated

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Architecture
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Soil Science
  • Geology


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