Parameter equivalence for the Gardner and van Genuchten soil hydraulic conductivity functions for steady vertical flow with inclusions

Dale F. Rucker, Arthur W. Warrick, Ty P.A. Ferré

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


The analytic element method is well suited for the Gardner hydraulic conductivity function, but is limited in describing real soils. Therefore, parameter equivalence between the van Genuchten and Gardner hydraulic conductivity functions is explored for the case of steady vertical flow through a homogeneous medium with a single inclusion, i.e., a binary soil. The inclusion has different hydraulic parameters than the background medium. Equivalence is established using three methods: (1) effective capillary drive; (2) capillary length; (3) and a least-squares optimization method that aims to fit a Gardner function to a corresponding van Genuchten function by minimizing the difference in log conductivity over a specified pressure range. Comparisons between hydraulic models are made based on scatterplots of pressure head and the vertical Darcian flux obtained using a finite-element numerical solution with both constitutive relations. For applicability of an equivalent Gardner function over a broad range of pressure heads, the crossover pressure must be maintained between the two parametric functions. The crossover pressure is defined as the pressure in which the hydraulic conductivity of the inclusion is equal to the background. It can be shown that a hybrid methodology of preserving the crossover pressure exactly and using the effective capillary drive will result in hydraulic parameters that are easily obtained and provide good agreement between the conductivity functions of the GR model to the VG model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)689-699
Number of pages11
JournalAdvances in Water Resources
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2005


  • Capillary length
  • Crossover pressure
  • Effective capillary drive
  • Equivalency
  • Unsaturated flow

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology


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