Soil desiccation, in conjunction with surface infiltration control, is considered at the Hanford Site as a potential technology to limit the flux of technetium and other contaminants in the vadose zone to the groundwater. An intermediate-scale experiment was conducted to test the response of a series of instruments to desiccation and subsequent rewetting of porous media. The instruments include thermistors, thermocouple psychrometers, dual-probe heat pulse sensors, heat dissipation units, and humidity probes. The experiment was simulated with the multifluid flow simulator STOMP, using independently obtained hydraulic and thermal porous medium properties. All instrument types used for this experiment were able to indicate when the desiccation front passed a certain location. In most cases the changes were sharp, indicating rapid changes in moisture content, water potential, or humidity. However, a response to the changing conditions was recorded only when the drying front was very close to a sensor. Of the tested instruments, only the heat dissipation unit and humidity probes were able to detect rewetting. The numerical simulation results reasonably match the experimental data, indicating that the simulator captures the pertinent gas flow and transport processes related to desiccation and rewetting and may be useful in the design and analysis of field tests.

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