In the evaluation of soil particle-size effects on environmental processes, particle-size distributions are measured by either wet or dry sieving. Commonly, size distributions determined by wet and dry sieving differ because some particles disaggregate in water. Whereas the dry-sieve distributions are most relevant to the study of soil adherence to skin, soil can be recovered from skin only by washing with the potential for disaggregation whether or not it is subsequently wet or dry sieved. Thus, the possibility exists that wet-sieving measurements of the particle sizes that adhered to the skin could be skewed toward the smaller fractions. This paper provides a method by which dry-sieve particle-size distributions can be reconstructed from wet-sieve particle-size distributions for the same soil. The approach combines mass balances with a series of experiments in which wet sieving was applied to dry-sieve fractions from the original soil. Unless the soil moisture content is high (i.e., greater than or equal to the water content after equilibration with water-saturated air), only the soil particles of diameters less than about 63 μm adhere to the skin. Because of this, the adhering particle-size distribution calculated using the reconstruction method was not significantly different from the wet-sieving determinations.
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Vol. 2 • No. 4