The coefficient of permeability function and water storage function are two hydraulic property functions required for the numerical modeling of transient seepage problems of saturated–unsaturated soil systems. It has become a generally accepted geotechnical engineering practice to estimate hydraulic property functions through the use of the soil-water characteristic curve (SWCC). Most methodologies available for the estimation of the unsaturated coefficient of permeability function are based on an assumption that the soil does not change volume as the soil suction is changed. This has resulted in the indiscriminate use of the SWCC in the estimation of hydraulic property functions. For soils that change volume during drying (e.g., Bulyanhulu tailings), it is important to independently consider the influence of the void ratio changes and degree of saturation changes. Experimental tests on Bulyanhulu tailings included shrinkage curve tests and SWCC tests. Laboratory results are presented, along with a revised interpretation methodology. The estimated hydraulic properties for Bulyanhulu tailings illustrate the influence of void ratio changes and degree of saturation changes.
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