Temperature Effects on the Hydraulic Properties of Unsaturated Sand and Their Influences on Water-Vapor Heat Transport

A. K. Leung, S. Feng, D. Vitali, L. Ma, A. A. Karimzadeh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Thermally driven moisture and vapor transport in unsaturated soil under a thermal loading applied by underground structures affects the magnitude and distribution of matric suction. There is a lack of data about the temperature dependency on the hydraulic conductivity function (HCF). This study (1) developed and used a temperature-controllable soil column for directly and simultaneously measuring the temperature dependency on both the soil-water retention curve (SWRC) and HCF using the instantaneous profile method, and (2) conducted water-vapor heat transport analyses to illustrate the effects of temperature dependency of SWRC and HCF on matric suction. The measurements showed that for sand there was a suction threshold of 2 kPa, below which the hydraulic conductivity of sand heated to 50°C became higher than that at 20°C due to decreased water viscosity. Above this threshold, the hydraulic conductivity at 50°C became lower, by as much as an order of magnitude at 10 kPa suction, because of temperature-induced reduction of water-retention ability. A parametric study revealed that using SWRC or/and HCF obtained at 20°C overestimated the magnitude of suction for soil heated to a temperature higher than 20°C. The overestimations were greater when heating took place in drier soil. The effects of vapor transport were negligible during the early stage of heating, and became prominent only after 7-8 days of continuous constant heating of the soil, regardless of the amount of initial soil suction considered.

Original languageEnglish
Article number06020003
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering
Issue number4
Early online date1 Feb 2020
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020


  • Hydraulic conductivity
  • Temperature effects
  • Unsaturated soil
  • Water retention curve
  • Water-vapor heat transport modeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Environmental Science(all)


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