What is it about?

Surface hardening of a porous medium undergoing evaporation of moisture loss. The upper layer of soil becomes hard as is commonly seen when a river runs dry. We explore the physics behind this phenomena.

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Why is it important?

It is of extreme importance in understanding the soil behaviour connected to the hydrology. Further, once this phenomenon is completely understood, we can devise methods to avoid it.

Perspectives

The results (or observations) reported in this article are surprising. Small amount of water trapped between two (small) particles lead to tremendously high adhesion. This force, induced by the interfacial surface tension, is the reason behind the collaborative strength of the upper layer of a drying soil. Temperature, it seems, somehow is very crucial as well.

Dr Navneet Kumar
Indian Institute of Science

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This page is a summary of: Formation of a hard surface layer during drying of a heated porous media, PLoS ONE, February 2020, PLOS, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0229723.
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