Analysis of plant root-induced preferential flow and pore-water pressure variation by a dual-permeability model

Wei Shao, Junjun Ni*, Anthony Kwan Leung, Ye Su, Charles Wang Wai Ng

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)
31 Downloads (Pure)


Vegetation can affect slope hydrology and stability via plant transpiration and induced matric suction. Previous work suggested that the presence of plant roots would induce preferential flow, and its effects may be more significant when the planting density is high. However, there is a lack of numerical studies on how planting density affects soil pore-water pressure and shear strength during heavy rainfall. This study aims to investigate the impact of plant root-induced preferential flow on hydromechanical processes of vegetated soils under different planting densities. Two modelling approaches, namely single- and dual-permeability models, were integrated with an infinite slope stability approach to simulate pore-water pressure dynamics and slope stability. Laboratory tests on soils with two different planting densities for a plant species, Schefflera heptaphylla, were conducted for numerical simulations. The single-permeability model overestimated the pore-water pressure in shallow soil and underestimated the infiltration depth. The dual-permeability model, which is able to model the effects of preferential flow, can better capture the observations of rapid increase of pore-water pressure and deeper pressure response in the vegetated soil. However, caution should be taken on the choice of pore-water pressure when using the dual-permeability model to assess the factor of safety. The dual-permeability model using the pore-water pressure in the preferential flow domain and that in the matrix domain would result in a lower and higher factor of safety, respectively.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1537-1552
Number of pages16
JournalCanadian Geotechnical Journal
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Dual-permeability model
  • Planting density
  • Preferential flow
  • Slope stability
  • Suction


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