Soil Percolation Rates From Neutron Probe Measurements

by Ted S. Vinson, (M.ASCE), Assoc. Prof. of Civ. Engrg.; Oregon State Univ., Corvallis, Oreg. 97331,
Larry Mahar, (A.M.ASCE), Staff Engr.; ERTEC-Western, Long Beach, Calif.,

Serial Information: Journal of the Irrigation and Drainage Division, 1981, Vol. 107, Issue 4, Pg. 343-359

Document Type: Journal Paper


A study was undertaken to investigate the feasibility of using subsurface neutron moisture probes to estimate soil percolation rates. The measurement procedure developed is based upon the subsurface soil moisture content versus time relationship obtained with a subsurface neutron probe in a soil column in which one-dimensional percolation is occurring. The results from ten laboratory percolation tests employing a column of well-graded sand were used to validate the measurement procedure. The proposed procedure appears to be acceptable for homogeneous deposits of well-graded sand. The validity of the procedure for layered soil profiles or shallow groundwater table conditions must be investigated. The procedure proposed is simpler than traditional methods (e.g., lysimetric) to measure percolation rates.

Subject Headings: Soil water | Percolation | Feasibility studies | Subsurface investigation | Probe instruments | Subsurface environment | Columns | Sandy soils

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