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Numerical demonstration of surfactant concentration-dependent capillarity and viscosity effects on infiltration from a constant flux line source

Henry, E.J., Smith, J.E.
Journal of hydrology 2006 v.329 no.1-2 pp. 63-74
capillarity, simulation models, aqueous solutions, groundwater contamination, viscosity, surfactants, infiltration (hydrology), unsaturated flow, remediation, wettability, sand, vadose zone
Surface infiltration line sources can deliver surfactant solutions for agricultural purposes or for use in subsurface remediation. Though the prediction of water distribution below a line source has received considerable attention in the scientific literature, little has been has been reported on how infiltration of surfactant solution from a line source differs from water infiltration. Few numerical models are capable of simulating surfactant-induced changes in moisture characteristic and hydraulic conductivity properties of unsaturated soil, so it is difficult to assess the importance of these effects when designing surfactant application schemes. We investigated surfactant infiltration behavior by using the variably-saturated flow and transport model HYDRUS-2D [Simunek, J., Sejna, M., van Genuchten, M.Th., 1999. The HYDRUS-2D software package for simulating the two-dimensional movement of water, heat, and multiple solutes in variably-saturated media, Version 2.0. IGWMC-TPS-53C. International Ground Water Modeling Center, Colorado School of Mines, Golden, CO] which was modified by [Henry, E.J., Smith, J.E., Warrick, A.W., 2002. Two-dimensional modeling of flow and transport in the vadose zone with surfactant-induced flow. Water Resour. Res. 38. DOI: doi:10.1029/2001WR000674] to incorporate surfactant effects on unsaturated flow. Significant differences were found between pure water and surfactant solution infiltration into a fine sand that was initially at residual moisture content. The surfactant solution wetted a larger area, both horizontally and vertically, relative to water, while the distribution of water within the wetted zone was more uniform than in the surfactant system. The surfactant system exhibited transient localized drainage and rewetting caused by surfactant-induced capillary pressure gradients within the wetting front. A standard unsaturated flow model (i.e., one that does not include surfactant effects on flow) is not capable of capturing the transient flow behavior. However, our results show that by using an effective scaled media (ESM) approach a standard model can be used to simulate later-time hydraulic conditions in a surfactant system.