Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Civil Engineering


The measurement of soil water content is one of the most common kinds of soil analysis performed. The potential effects of the soil water content on the behavior of soil makes it an important measurement in every type of soil study. The relationship between soil water content and matric suction is known as the soil-water characteristic curve. The soil-water characteristic curve is an influential property for determining physical properties of the soil. The soil-water characteristic is curve is often used for calculating unsaturated hydraulic values. Over the past ten years there has been an increase in the interest of the unsaturated zone of soils. This has been due to public concerns for deteriorated quality of soil and groundwater. Therefore, engineers are relying more and more on computer models for estimating the movement of contamination through unsaturated soil. The introduction of petroleum hydrocarbons into an unsaturated soil, due to a spill, alters the unsaturated hydraulic properties of the soil, but current computer modeling of flow in unsaturated soil does not account for this change in unsaturated hydraulic properties. This is a problem that needs to be further researched. The results of this study show that oil contamination has an effect on soil-water characteristic curves. The results indicate that the soil physical properties have been changed reflected by an increase in volumetric water content. The statistical analysis performed on the data showed that the alterations in the contaminated soil sample and volumetric water content are not significant. Further studies are suggested in this area to further address and progress this growing concern.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Soil moisture Petroleum chemicals -- Environmental aspects Groundwater -- Pollution Soil pollution



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University