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Quantifying Evaporation From Soils Using Experimental and Mathematical Methods

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  • The issue of estimating evaporation in soils is central to the design of engineered soil caps for mine waste and landfill applications. In general, because evaporation from the soil is difficult to measure in the field, laboratory experiments and empirical methods have been used. Much of the earlier work has been conducted in soil science, although in recent years, geotechnical and geoenvironmental engineers have given great deal effort to this work. The result of this increased interest is the development of numerical models, such as UNSATH and SoilCover for estimating evaporation. In this study laboratory-measured evaporation from soil columns was compared with evaporation predicted using the computer program SoilCover, and the analytical method proposed by Gardner and Hillel. Good agreement among the results was observed. Also the sensitivity of the predicted evaporation to soil hydraulic and geotechnical properties, such as saturated hydraulic conductivity and coefficient of volume change was discussed and the practical implication of the sensitivity were highlighted. The work has application in the design and construction of soil covers over sulfide-bearing mine waste and landfills.

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