The van Genuchten expressions for the unsaturated soil hydraulic properties, first published in 1980, are used frequently in various vadose zone flow and transport applications assuming a specific relationship between the m and n soil hydraulic parameters. By comparison, probably because of the complexity of the hydraulic conductivity equations, the more general solutions with independent m and n values are rarely used. We expressed the general van Genuchten-Mualem and van Genuchten-Burdine hydraulic conductivity equations in terms of hypergeometric functions, which can be approximated by infinite series that converge rapidly for relatively large values of the van Genuchten-Mualem parameter n but only very slowly when n is close to one. Alternative equations were derived that provide very close approximations of the analytical results. The newly proposed equations allow the use of independent values of the parameters m and n in the soil water retention model of van Genuchten for subsequent prediction of the van Genuchten-Mualem and van Genuchten-Burdine hydraulic conductivity models, thus providing more flexibility in fitting experimental pressure-head-dependent water content, theta(h), and hydraulic conductivity, K(h), or K(theta) data.
- unsaturated soils