Determination of water retention properties of silty sands by means of combined commercial techniques

Elisa Ponzoni, Alessandra Nocilla*, Cristina Jommi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
29 Downloads (Pure)


A recent increase in frequency and severity of exceptional climatic events is of concern for the stability of natural and artificial slopes. These undergo continuous evaporation and infiltration cycles, which change the suction distribution and trigger shrinkage, swelling, cracking, and surfi-cial erosion, overall decreasing the soil strength. To assess the impact of these climatic stresses, the determination of water retention properties is a priority. Although advanced techniques have been proposed in the last few decades to this end, simpler commercially available techniques allow col-lecting data for a larger number of samples in a shorter time, thus enabling a basic description of the water retention properties for a larger database of soils. Data on two silty sands, coming from very different climatic environments in Europe, were collected with a combination of two simple commercial devices, and the results were modelled with a van Genuchten’s law. The fitted pa-rameters were found to correlate well with the amount of fines, irrespective of the different origin and composition of the two soils. Eventually, the limitation of the approach is discussed based on the results of cyclic drying–wetting tests.

Original languageEnglish
Article number315
Number of pages11
JournalGeosciences (Switzerland)
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Commercial experimental techniques
  • Silty sands
  • Suction
  • Water retention


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