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A Scanning Electron Microscopy study of water in soil

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Cold stage Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) with a rapid cooling technique makes it possible to investigate the water phase within unsaturated porous media. It is thought that this technique preserves the main features of the micromorphology of the water menisci as it exists in the liquid phase in soils. Saddle-shaped elements, as well as pendular rings of water, were observed with concave and convex curvatures of the water-air interface. The hydraulic conductivity of an unsaturated soil may be inferred from SEM photographs. Observations of isolated water menisci indicate the existence of an immobile water domain. The surface geometry of the water menisci was analyzed quantitatively and surface tension and capillary pressure were determined.

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Gvirtzman, H., Magaritz, M., Klein, E. et al. A Scanning Electron Microscopy study of water in soil. Transp Porous Med 2, 83–93 (1987).

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