The effect of dynamic capillarity in modeling saturation overshoot during infiltration

Luwen Zhuang (Corresponding author), C.J. van Duijn, S. Majid Hassanizadeh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
126 Downloads (Pure)


Gravity-driven fingering has been observed during downward infiltration of water into dry sand. Moreover, the water saturation profile within each finger is non-monotonic, with a saturation overshoot at the finger tip. As reported in the literature, these effects can be simulated by an extended form of the Richards equation, where a dynamic capillarity term is included. The coefficient of proportionality is called the dynamic capillarity coefficient. The dynamic capillarity coefficient may depend on saturation. However, there is no consensus on the form of this dependence. We provide a detailed traveling wave analysis of four distinctly different functional forms of the dynamic capillarity coefficient. In some forms, the coefficient increases with increasing saturation, and in some forms, it decreases. For each form, we have found an explicit expression for the maximum value of saturation in the overshoot region. In current formulations of dynamic capillarity, if the value of the capillarity coefficient is large, the value of saturation in the overshoot region may exceed unity, which is obviously nonphysical. So, we have been able to ensure boundedness of saturation regardless of the value of the dynamic capillarity coefficient by extending the capillary pressure–saturation relationship. Finally, we provide a qualitative comparison of the results of traveling wave analysis with experimental observations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number180133
Number of pages14
JournalVadose Zone Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 14 Feb 2019


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