Effect of Soil Fabric on Transport of a LNAPL through Unsaturated Fine-Grained Soils: A Centrifugal Model Study

Amin Yousefnia Pasha, Esmail Aflaki, Liming Hu, Jay N. Meegoda

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6 Scopus citations


Centrifugal model tests were performed to study the impact of the fabric of a fine-grained soil on transport of a light non-aqueous phase liquid (LNAPL). An image processing technique was developed to extract contaminant transport and fate data from the centrifugal model. Two unconsolidated sites with different moisture contents and a saturated site consolidated due to self-weight were simulated using the centrifuge. The LNAPL migrated in the vertical direction as a narrow plume and formed a free product pool above the saturated zone in unsaturated and unconsolidated soils. However, the LNAPL migrated in the horizontal direction before moving in the vertical direction as a broad plume in the consolidated site. The test results showed that the final width of the plume in the unsaturated zone of the consolidated site was nearly two times as large as that for the unconsolidated sites. In addition, the rate of leak from the underground storage tanks (USTs) on consolidated soils was substantially higher when compared with those on the unconsolidated state. The comparison of LNAPL saturation profiles at the centerline of the centrifugal models during leakage showed that, depending on the soil fabric at a given time and depth, the LNAPL phase would be different; i.e., mobile or immobile (residual) in the same soil type. The test results provided additional insight into contribution of soil fabric on transport and fate of contaminants. The soil fabric controls the geological and hydro-geological properties of fine-grained soils and hence the contamination plume.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)223-240
Number of pages18
JournalSoil and Sediment Contamination
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pollution
  • Soil Science
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Environmental Chemistry


  • Light Non-Aqueous Phase Liquid (LNAPL)
  • Soil fabric
  • centrifugal model
  • image processing
  • transport and fate of contaminants
  • underground storage tank (UST)


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