The relation between the moisture‐release curve and the structure of soil


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The limit to the precision with which moisture‐release data may be related to soil structure is examined. Thin sections in two orthogonal planes were prepared from cores for which moisture release data and saturated conductivity measurements were also collected. Structural parameters are inferred indirectly through estimation of the mass fractal dimension from the moisture‐release curve, and directly through measurement of the scaling properties of the pore space and solid matrix from the thin sections using image analysis. Theoretical results are presented which show that, in the absence of additional information, the interpretation of the moisture‐release curve is ambiguous for several reasons. A power‐law exponent is a consequence of either a fractal pore volume; a fractal solid volume; a fractal pore wall; or a non‐fractal, self‐similar pore wall, and one cannot infer from the measurement which is the case. Experimental results are presented which confirm that direct measurement of the fractal dimension of the solid matrix is a good predictor of the Brooks–Corey exponent for the soils studied here. Therefore, although a specific structural parameter characterizes the moisture‐release curve, the latter cannot be used as a detailed measure of soil structure. Copyright © 1995, Wiley Blackwell. All rights reserved
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)369-375
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Soil Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 1995
Externally publishedYes


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