A graph-based approach for modeling the soil–water retention curve of granular soils across the entire suction range

Wei Yan, Ludwig Angerer, Emanuel Birle, Roberto Cudmani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


This study investigates experimentally the water retention behavior of granular soils from saturation to oven-dry state. The soil–water retention curve (SWRC) tests were conducted on a well-graded sand with clay using tensiometer and chilled-mirror hygrometer techniques. The soil samples were statically compacted at various water contents to different initial densities. The results showed that individual linear segments in the log–log graph could characterize the desorption process of capillary and adsorption water. A novel water retention model in a simple mathematical form was developed by conceptualizing the total water content as the sum of the suction-dependent capillary and adsorption components. The model parameters possess an unambiguous physical meaning. They can be easily calibrated based on the graphical properties of the test data using simple linear regression, which is a significant advantage over conventional SWRC models. The model was validated using the water retention data of the tested soil in this study and the available data of granular soils in the literature. The reproduced curves agree well with the experimental results. This study also analyzed the influence of compaction water content, initial density, and clay content on the capillary and adsorption components of the water retention curve. Additionally, the proposed framework provides a quick approximation method for the adsorption capacity, which plays an essential role in assessing the effective stress and the simulation of liquid film flow in unsaturated granular soils.

Original languageEnglish
JournalActa Geotechnica
StateAccepted/In press - 2024


  • Adsorption water
  • Full suction range
  • Parameter calibration
  • Soil–water retention curve
  • Unsaturated soil
  • Van Genuchten model


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