Bayesian estimation of the hydraulic and solute transport properties of a small-scale unsaturated soil column

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In this study the hydraulic and solute transport properties of an unsaturated soil were estimated simultaneously from a relatively simple small-scale laboratory column infiltration/outflow experiment. As governing equations we used the Richards equation for variably saturated flow and a physical non-equilibrium dual-porosity type formulation for solute transport. A Bayesian parameter estimation approach was used in which the unknown parameters were estimated with the Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) method through implementation of the Metropolis-Hastings algorithm. Sensitivity coefficients were examined in order to determine the most meaningful measurements for identifying the unknown hydraulic and transport parameters. Results obtained using the measured pressure head and solute concentration data collected during the unsaturated soil column experiment revealed the robustness of the proposed approach.

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