Emmanuel Arthur, Department of Agroecology, Aarhus University, Tjele, Denmark, Markus Tuller, PO Box 210038, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, Per Moldrup Sr., Aalborg Univ Sohngaardsholmsvej 57 D-building, Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark and Lis W. de Jonge, Agroecology, Aarhus University, Tjele, Denmark
Hysteresis of the soil water characteristic (SWC) has been extensively studied for matric potentials between zero and −1.5 MPa. However, little information is available on how to quantify, evaluate, and identify the causes of hysteresis at potentials below −10 MPa where vapor sorption plays an important role. It is clear that modeling physical and biological soil processes is more accurate when SWC hysteresis is considered, particularly at low potentials where small differences in water content are associated with large changes in potential energy. The objectives of the presented study were to: (i) evaluate and compare recently developed methods (MBET-n, Dh and SPN) for quantifying hysteresis in soils and pure clays, and (ii) investigate the role of organic matter (OM) and clay content and type on hysteresis. Five pure clays and two sets of soils with gradients in organic matter and clay content were investigated. For soils, all three methods successfully quantified sorption hysteresis. The MBET-n and Dh method yielded comparable results while the SPN results differed significantly from the other two. For pure clays, only the Dh method accurately described the observed hysteresis and hysteresis was dependent on the degree of interlayer expansion, where kaolinite exhibited little hysteresis and montmorillonite showed significant hysteresis between the sorption isotherms. For soils, clay and OM effects on hysteresis depended on the method used for quantifying hysteresis. For the SPN method, large contents of organic matter and clay in soils are associated with increased hysteresis. For both MBET-n and Dh methods, no clear trends of clay or OM contents effects on hysteresis was observed.