A new transient method for determining soil hydraulic conductivity function

Anthony Kwan Leung (Lead / Corresponding author), Jason Lim Coo, Charles W. W. Ng, Rui Chen

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26 Citations (Scopus)
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Instantaneous profile method (IPM) is a transient method for measuring a soil hydraulic conductivity function (SHCF), which relates soil hydraulic conductivity with suction. In the existing interpretation method of the IPM, boundary flux during testing must be known to integrate instantaneous profiles of water content for obtaining water flow rate. However, it is usually difficult and expensive to measure a boundary flux and if not known, assumptions that may not be easily justified (especially in the field condition) have to be made. In this study, a new method is proposed so that any boundary flux needs not to be measured, controlled or assumed during a test. The new method is evaluated through (i) hypothetical column tests using transient seepage analyses and (ii) five case studies. The new method is capable of determining a SHCF with good accuracy. Normalised root-mean-square deviation (NRMSD) for the old and new methods is less than 5% and 10%, respectively. The accuracy of the new method can be increased substantially (i.e., NRMSD < 5%) when the spacing of sensors installed along a soil column is reduced. Closer sensor spacing reduces error propagation due to numerical differentiation of instantaneous profiles of hydraulic head for determining hydraulic gradient.
Original languageEnglish
Article number14
Pages (from-to)1332
Number of pages1345
JournalCanadian Geotechnical Journal
Issue number8
Early online date8 Apr 2016
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2016


  • Hydraulic conductivity
  • suction
  • instantaneous profile method
  • unsaturated soils


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