Relating soil specific surface area, water film thickness, and water vapor adsorption

Tairone Paiva Leão, Markus Tuller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Estimation of soil specific surface area (SSA) and dry-end water vapor adsorption are important for porous media characterization and for prediction of water and vapor fluxes in arid environments. The objective of the presented study was to model water adsorption, film thickness, and SSA based on the t-curve theory originally developed for N2 adsorption. Data from 21 source soils with clay contents ranging from 0.6 to 52.2% were used to estimate specific surface area based on water retention, a t-curve type method, the linear prediction method, and a simplified monolayer method. The water retention and the t-curve methods were found to be mathematically analogous and were among the most accurate with regard to correlation coefficient (r = 0.97) and root-mean-square error (RMSE = 11.36 × 103 m2/kg) when compared to measurements obtained with the standard ethylene glycol monoethyl ether (EGME) method. The corrected t-curve method significantly overestimated SSA when compared to EGME data. Comparison of all considered methods with N2-BET (BET) measurements disclosed lower correlation coefficients. For soil studies, the vapor adsorption in conjunction with the t-curve or water retention methods should be preferred for SSA estimation as they show much higher correlation with soil clay content and EGME measurements. Key Points SSA is related to the slope of the water content versus film thickness function SSA can be estimated from water content at monolayer Film thickness can be predicted from adapted t-curve method

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7873-7885
Number of pages13
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2014


  • film thickness
  • surface area
  • water vapor adsorption

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology


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