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Ronny Berndtsson

Professor, Dep Director, MECW Dep Scientific Coordinator

Profile photo of Ronny Berndtsson

Characterizing unsaturated solute transport by simultaneous use of dye and bromide


  • Pernilla Öhrström
  • Y Hamed
  • Magnus Persson
  • Ronny Berndtsson

Summary, in English

Variability in solute transport properties in the unsaturated zone is of growing concern due to environmental hazards. By combining dye and salt tracers, a detailed description of the solute transport can be made in both time and space. In this paper, qualitative and quantitative effects of preferential flow were investigated in a sandy loam. The experimental site was equipped with 64 TDR probes. The plot was irrigated with pure water for 12 days to achieve steady state conditions. Then the plot was irrigated with a solution containing a dye tracer and KBr over three days. During the experiment, bromide concentration and soil moisture were measured hourly by the TDR probes. On the day following the last day of irrigation, a trench was dug and 14 vertical slices were excavated and photographed. A Sigma Probe (SP) was used to investigate the bromide concentration in an individual finger. The SP is a new dielectric measuring technique that gives readings of soil solution electrical conductivity. The dye photographs provided visualization of finger flow. Horizontal flow was evident in the E horizon at 0.3-0.4 m depth. Also the bromide concentration was elevated at these depths. The occurrences of high bromide as measured by the SP concentration corresponded fairly well to the dye patterns. The visible lower limit of dye stained soil corresponded to a bromide concentration of 0.10. A comparison between the bromide and dye penetration showed that the retardation factor of the dye as compared to bromide was 1.5. This is within the range reported by other authors and shows that the SP can be a useful tool to investigate the retardation of dyes as compared to bromide. (C) 2003 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


  • Division of Water Resources Engineering

Publishing year







Journal of Hydrology





Document type

Journal article




  • Water Engineering


  • time domain reflectometry
  • preferential flown
  • gromide
  • dye




  • ISSN: 0022-1694