Determination of the relative macroporosity and the effective aggregate width for different macropore geometries with disk infiltrometers

C.A. Faúndez Urbina*, J.C. van Dam, F. van den Berg, C.J. Ritsema, D.W.S. Tang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The relative macroporosity (wf) and the effective aggregate width (dag) are input parameters for several dual-permeability models. As wf is geometrically related to dag, any improvement in its determination is directly extended to dag. The wf, as estimated by disk infiltrometers, applies only under the assumption that macropores are cylindrically shaped. We generalize the determination of wf for ring, hexagon, brick, and rectangular slab macropore-matrix shapes using a transformation factor, ξ, obtained from pore-scale modeling. The ξ was computed by dividing the relative macroporosity for noncylindrical shapes, wf_nc, over the relative macroporosity for cylindrical shapes, wf_c. The computation of ξ accounts for differences in the macropore area and macropore water flow between noncylindrical and cylindrical shapes. A total of 15 combinations of macropore width and effective aggregate width were used to construct the geometrical figures and compute both wf_nc and wf_c. For the cylindrical, ring, and rectangular slab shapes, the macropore water flow was solved using analytical solutions. For the hexagonal and brick shapes, the macropore water flow was solved numerically using COMSOL Multiphysics. Remarkably, the computed ξ was constant and equal to 1.5 for all four noncylindrical shapes under analysis. We show that the solution is exact for laminar flow under saturated conditions in the macropores with a rigid and wettable matrix. This methodology enables the derivation of a better estimate of wf and dag from disk infiltrometer data that include different macropore geometries. This information is crucial for the setup of dual-permeability models in risk assessments and detailed studies.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere20048
JournalVadose Zone Journal
Volume19
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jul 2020

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