Unsaturated zone characterization in soil through transient wetting and drying using GPR joint time-frequency analysis and grayscale images

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26 Citations (Scopus)


This paper describes an experimental method to characterize the soil's unsaturated zone by constructing a scenario in which transient downward water infiltration took place from the topsoil to the bottom soil continuously. During the water infiltration, GPR waveforms and side-view grayscale images of the soil column were simultaneously and continuously captured. The GPR wavelets associated with the wetting front were analyzed using short time fourier transform (STFT) algorithm. The downward wetting front and the stretch of unsaturated transition zone decelerated and eased the wetting front's reflection in the time domain; as well as reduced the peak frequency and attenuated the frequency spectra in the frequency domain. The subsequent drying process further attenuated but accelerated the wetting front's reflection in both time and frequency domains. These observations were correlated with the image pixel profiles, from which GPR velocity profiles at different lapsed times were generated after computation via a complex refractive index model (CRIM). The CRIM method is entirely non-invasive and not only offers very detailed measurement of the water saturation profile of the transition zone in laboratory scale, but also is potentially useful for the further study of a variety of vadose zone properties.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jul 2012


  • Grayscale images
  • Ground penetrating radar
  • Joint time-frequency analysis
  • Pixel profile
  • Unsaturated zone
  • Wetting and drying

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology

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