Predicting the direction and rate of contaminant transport in the vadose zone requires quantification of soil hydraulic properties. For many problems, the most appropriate approach is to assume that the contamination is moving with the water phase. Therefore, the unsaturated hydraulic conductivity is the most important property governing water movement in soils. There is a wide variety of methods to determine this important property including in situ methods (e.g., instantaneous profile method, crust method), laboratory methods (e.g., one-step outflow, pressure plate, long column methods), and calculations from other data (e.g., Brooks and Corey, van Genuchten models). In this paper we present a summary and brief critique of the current methods for determining unsaturated hydraulic conductivity.
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