DOI: 10.3390/hydrology10120235 ISSN: 2306-5338

Achieving Real-World Saturated Hydraulic Conductivity: Practical and Theoretical Findings from Using an Exponential One-Phase Decay Model

Amadou Keïta, Malicki Zorom, Moussa Diagne Faye, Djim Doumbe Damba, Yacouba Konaté, László G. Hayde, Bruno Lidon
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Oceanography

Obtaining accurate values of saturated hydraulic conductivity (Ksat) is very important for managing all natural or artificial processes involving water flow into soils. Double-ring infiltration (DRI) is one of the easiest-to-work-with techniques commonly used for Ksat determination. Unfortunately, when improperly used, it leads to important variations and inaccurate results. This study was designed to investigate the necessary conditions to reach the true-value or real-world saturated hydraulic conductivity (Ksat-real-world) in the field. For this purpose, the effects of two factors—namely, the measured infiltration data type (cumulative, instant rate, and average rate) and the related non-linear regression equation type—were analyzed. Measurements with DRI were performed with samples from 106 locations in three West African countries, namely, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Cote d’Ivoire. The soils were composed of loam, sandy loam, and sandy clay loam. The results show that when infiltration rates are used rather than cumulative infiltration non-linear regression curves, the variability between the measured Ksat and the real-world saturated hydraulic conductivity (Ksat-real-world) could reach from 2.2% to 58.8%. This variability was caused by the approximate amplification—according to the procedure used—of time-increment measurement errors. Extending the test duration to more than 4 h, especially when clay soils were involved, and using the exponential one-phase decay non-linear regression of the cumulative infiltration data based on a clear measurement protocol provided the Ksat values that were closest to Ksat-real-world.

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