• sand column;
  • constant-head drainage;
  • saturated-unsaturated flow;
  • two-phase flow;
  • numerical modeling

[1] The unsteady state drainage of water from a vertical sand column with and without a finer layer on the top was studied theoretically and experimentally to investigate the airflow generated by the finer layer. The sand column, saturated at its lower portion and initially in the condition of hydrostatic equilibrium, is drained at its bottom at constant head. The results show that significant vacuum can be generated in the vadose zone of the column with a finer layer on the top. The vacuum increases quickly in the earlier stage of the drainage, reaches a maximum, and gradually becomes zero. Because of the effect of the vacuum in the vadose zone, water is held in and the cumulative outflow from the column with the finer layer is much smaller than without the layer during most of the drainage process. Ordinary differential equations (ODE), which require only saturated hydraulic properties of the porous media, are derived to predict the location of the surface of saturation and vacuum in the vadose zone in air-water two-phase flow. The solutions of ODE match very satisfactorily with the experimental data and give better results than TOUGH2.