Abstract: A new and relatively simple equation for the soil-water content-pressure head curve, 8(h), is described in this paper. The particular form of the equation enables one to derive closedform analytical expressions for the relative hydraulic conductivity, Kr, when substituted in the predictive conductivity models of N.T. Burdine or Y. Mualem. The resulting expressions for Kr(h) contain three independent parameters which may be obtained by fitting the proposed soil-water retention model to experimental data. Results obtained with the closed-form analytical expressions based on the Mualem theory are compared with observed hydraulic conductivity data for five soils with a wide range of hydraulic properties. The unsaturated hydraulic conductivity is predicted well in four out of five cases. It is found that a reasonable description of the soil-water retention curve at low water contents is important for an accurate prediction of the unsaturated hydraulic conductivity. Additional Index Words: soil-water diffusivity, soil-water retention curve. van Genuchten, M. Th. 1980. A closed-form equation for predicting the hydraulic conductivity of unsaturated soils. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J. 44:892-898. T USE OF NUMERICAL MODELS for simulating fluid flow and mass transport in the unsaturated zone has become increasingly popular the last few years. Recent literature indeed demonstrates that much effort is put into the development of such models (Reeves and Duguid, 1975; Segol, 1976; Vauclin et al., 1979). Unfortunately, it appears that the ability to fully characterize the simulated system has not kept pace with the numerical and modeling expertise. Probably the single most important factor limiting the successful application of unsaturated flow theory to actual field problems is the lack of information regarding the parameters entering the governing transfer equations. Reliable estimates of the unsaturated hydraulic conductivity are especially difficult to obtain, partly because of its extensive variability in the field, and partly because measuring this parameter is time-consuming and expensive. Several investigators have, for these reasons, used models for calculating the unsaturated conductivity from the more easily measured soil-water retention curve. Very popular among these models has been the Millington-Quirk method (Millington and Quirk, 1961), various forms of which have been applied with some success in a number of studies (cf. Jackson et al., 1965; Jackson, 1972; Green and Corey, 1971; Bruce, 1972). Unfortunately, this method has the disadvantage of producing tabular results which, for example when applied to nonhomogeneous soils in multidimensional unsaturated flow models, are quite tedious to use. Closed-form analytical expressions for predicting 1 Contribution from the U. S. Salinity Laboratory, AR-SEA, USDA, Riverside, CA 92501. Received 29 June 1979. Approved 19 May I960. 'Soil Scientist, Dep. of Soil and Environmental Sciences, University of California, Riverside, CA 92521. The author is located at the U. S. Salinity Lab., 4500 Glenwood Dr., Riverside, CA 92502. the unsaturated hydraulic conductivity have also been developed. For example, Brooks and Corey (1964) and Jeppson (1974) each used an analytical expression for the conductivity based on the Burdine theory (Burdine, 1953). Brooks and Corey (1964, 1966) obtained fairly accurate predictions with their equations, even though a discontinuity is present in the slope of both the soil-water retention curve and the unsaturated hydraulic conductivity curve at some negative value of the pressure head (this point is often referred to as the bubbling pressure). Such a discontinuity sometimes prevents rapid convergence in numerical saturated-unsaturated flow problems. It also appears that predictions based on the Brooks and Corey equations are somewhat less accurate than those obtained with various forms of the (modified) Millington-Quirk method. Recently Mualem (1976a) derived a new model for predicting the hydraulic conductivity from knowledge of the soil-water retention curve and the conductivity at saturation. Mualem's derivation leads to a simple integral formula for the unsaturated hydraulic conductivity which enables one to derive closed-form analytical expressions, provided suitable equations for the soil-water retention curves are available. It is the purpose of this paper to derive such expressions using an equation for the soil-water retention curve which is both continuous and has a continuous slope. The resulting conductivity models generally contain three independent parameters which may be obtained by matching the proposed soil-water retention curve to experimental data. Results obtained with the closedform equations based on the Mualem theory will be compared with observed data for a few soils having widely varying hydraulic properties. THEORETICAL Equations Based on Mualem's Model The following equation was derived by Mualem (1976a) for predicting the relative hydraulic conductivity (Kr) from knowledge of the soil-water retention curve