FRACTAL SCALING OF PARTICLE AND PORE SIZE DISTRIBUTIONS AND ITS RELATION TO SOIL HYDRAULIC CONDUCTIVITY

O.O.S. BACCHI K. REICHARDT N.A. VILLA NOVA About the authors

Fractal scaling has been applied to soils, both for void and solid phases, as an approach to characterize the porous arrangement, attempting to relate particle-size distribution to soil water retention and soil water dynamic properties. One important point of such an analysis is the assumption that the void space geometry of soils reflects its solid phase geometry, taking into account that soil pores are lined by the full range of particles, and that their fractal dimension, which expresses their tortuosity, could be evaluated by the fractal scaling of particle-size distribution. Other authors already concluded that although fractal scaling plays an important role in soil water retention and porosity, particle-size distribution alone is not sufficient to evaluate the fractal structure of porosity. It is also recommended to examine the relationship between fractal properties of solids and of voids, and in some special cases, look for an equivalence of both fractal dimensions. In the present paper data of 42 soil samples were analyzed in order to compare fractal dimensions of pore-size distribution, evaluated by soil water retention curves (SWRC) of soils, with fractal dimensions of soil particle-size distributions (PSD), taking the hydraulic conductivity as a standard variable for the comparison, due to its relation to tortuosity. A new procedure is proposed to evaluate the fractal dimension of pore-size distribution. Results indicate a better correlation between fractal dimensions of pore-size distribution and the hydraulic conductivity for this set of soils, showing that for most of the soils analyzed there is no equivalence of both fractal dimensions. For most of these soils the fractal dimension of particle-size distribution does not indicate properly the pore trace tortuosity. A better equivalence of both fractal dimensions was found for sandy soils.

Fractal; particle size distribution; pore size distribution; soil water retention; soil hydraulic conductivity


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