7Soil Physical Properties and Processes

Morteza Sadeghi1, Ebrahim Babaeian2, Emmanuel Arthur3, Scott B. Jones1, and Markus Tuller2

1 Department of Plants, Soils and Climate, Utah State University, Logan, UT, USA

2 Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science, The University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA

3 Department of Agroecology, Aarhus University, Tjele, Denmark

7.1 Introduction

Soil physics is concerned with the application of physical principles to characterize the soil system and mass and energy transport processes within the critical zone, which extends from the bedrock to the top of the plant canopy. The exploitation of soil physical principles is not only feasible for natural systems but also relevant for many industrial and engineering applications such as oil recovery, construction, filtration, powder technology, or production of ceramics and nanoporous materials. Soil physical processes are intimately intertwined with biological and chemical processes simultaneously occurring within the same soil volume.

This chapter introduces fundamental soil physical principles at the core of environmental engineering applications and provides a thorough overview of the current state of technology for measurement and monitoring of physical state variables and processes as well as techniques for characterization of basic soil properties. The chapter encompasses six sections, with basic soil properties presented in Section 7.2. Flow processes and applicable measurement methods ...

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