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Thermal Properties of Stony Soils: How To Get the Right Answer in a Soil/Rock Mix


Get the right thermal conductivity or thermal resistivity value for your soil profile. Find out how to combine rock and soil measurements.

You can’t directly measure the thermal conductivity or resistivity of a stony soil

Rocks typically have a much higher thermal conductivity than the soil around them. You can measure the thermal conductivity of the rocks and of the interstitial soil, but how do you combine them to get the conductivity or resistivity of the soil profile? If you average the two, you’ll end up with the wrong number, which could be catastrophic. In underground power cable applications, if you overestimate, you’re in danger of damaging the cable. If you underestimate, you’ll spend too much on your installation.

How to combine the conductivity of rock and soil to get the right value for the profile

In this 30-minute webinar, world-renowned soil physicist Dr. Gaylon Campbell teaches how to combine the conductivity of rock and soil to get the right thermal conductivity or thermal resistivity value for the soil profile. You’ll learn:

  • How to both measure and model soil thermal conductivity
  • How to measure the thermal conductivity of rocks
  • How to combine those two measurements to get the right conductivity value for the entire soil profile

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Our scientists have decades of experience helping researchers and growers measure the soil-plant-atmosphere continuum. 


Dr. Gaylon S. Campbell has been a research scientist and engineer at METER for over 20 years, following nearly 30 years on faculty at Washington State University. Dr. Campbell’s first experience with environmental measurement came in the lab of Sterling Taylor at Utah State University making water potential measurements to understand plant water status.

Dr. Campbell is one of the world’s foremost authorities on physical measurements in the soil-plant-atmosphere continuum. His book written with Dr. John Norman on Environmental Biophysics provides a critical foundation for anyone interested in understanding the physics of the natural world. Dr. Campbell has written three books, over 100 refereed journal articles and book chapters, and has several patents.

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