Vadose Zone Hydrology

GeoStudio provides comprehensive tools for analyzing coupled water and heat transfer within the vadose zone.

The analytical challenge

Understanding flow within the vadose zone is often challenging due to complex processes and interactions occurring near the ground surface given vegetation and climatic conditions. This information is often required to obtain climate-controlled pore pressures on natural slopes for stability analyses, design soil covers for mine or municipal wastes, and determine net infiltration and transpiration from agricultural land. To do so, coupled water, vapor, and heat transport is required.

The GeoStudio solution

GeoStudio’s multi-physics solver seamlessly couples mass and heat transport processes required for these problems. Various levels of complexity may be simulated, with more complex analyses including root water uptake and snowmelt, in addition to evaporation, surface ponding and runoff. Results from a vadose zone analysis can be linked with slope stability or contaminant transport models for a comprehensive solution.

Example analyses

Explore these GeoStudio analyses of flow through the vadose zone.

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Design of a Soil Vapor Barrier

This example considers a capillary cover used to restrict gas release from waste materials. The land-climate interaction boundary condition is used in SEEP/W to determine the infiltration flux and root water uptake given climate and vegetation data. The resulting water distribution is then used in CTRAN/W to simulate gas transfer by hydrodynamic dispersion through both the free and dissolved phases.

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Snow Melt with the Land-Climate Interaction Boundary Condition

The SEEP/W land-climate interaction boundary condition is used to model the water balance at the ground surface. This example demonstrates how to interpret the net infiltration during a snow melt event when the air temperature is transitioning across the freezing threshold.

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Transpiration by Root Water Uptake

Transpiration results in water being extracted from the ground by root mass, which in-turn alters the pore-water pressures and therefore the groundwater flow regime. This example demonstrates the use of the land-climate interaction boundary condition in SEEP/W to calculate root water extraction rates in accordance with potential evapotranspiration, which is climate dependent, the condition of the vegetation, and the availability of water.

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Evaporation from the Wilson Soil Column

The example illustrates the simulation of actual evaporation from a one-dimensional soil column. Actual evaporation rates are calculated based on the relative humidity within the soil, which is controlled by temperature and matric suction, and the climate conditions as defined by the land-climate interaction boundary condition.

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Read the analysis details

Related Products

GeoStudio includes three integrated products that work in combination to provide effective analysis of vadose zone hydrology.



Finite element analysis of groundwater flow in saturated / unsaturated porous media.

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Finite element analysis of heat transfer and phase change in porous media.

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Finite element analysis of solute and gas transport in porous media.

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Finite element analysis of air transfer in mine waste and other porous media.

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Explore all solutions

GeoStudio's integrated products enable you to work across a broad range of engineering use cases.