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BRAND, E. W.

& PFCEMCHITT,
J. (1980). GCotechnique

30, No. 4, 369-384

Shape factors of cylindrical piezometers


E. W. BRAND*

and J. PREMCHITTt

This Paper describes a liquid electric analogue model and


a finite difference model used to establish reliable values
for the shape factors of cylindrical
piezometers
with
length/diameter
ratios of up to 15. For piezometers with
length/diameter
ratios greater than 4, it was found that
the shape factor is given with negligible error by the
relationship: F = 7d + 1.651. An examination
of the effect
on the shape factor of piezometer proximity to the watertable showed this to be negligible for practical purposes,
except where the piezometer is within a few piezometer
lengths of the water-table.
Shape factors were also
established for cylindrical piezometers embedded in cylindrical soil specimens subjected to all five possible boundary conditions. The measured shape factors were higher
or lower than the infinite values depending
upon the
boundary conditions and the proximity of the boundaries
to the piezometer. These data give some guidance to the
performance
of pore pressure probes used in laboratory
specimens, and they are useful in the analysis of steady
state flow conditions and for the assessment of response
studies of piezometer systems.

Cet Article d&it un modtle analogique tlectrique fluide


et un modele a difference finie servant a itablir des valeurs
fiables pour les coefficients de forme de pitzometres
cyhndriques dont les rapports longueur/diamttre
peuvent
atteindre
15. Pour les piezometres
dont le rapport
longueur/daimetre
est superieur a 4, on a trouve que le
coefficient
de forme etait donne,
avec une erreur
negligeable, par la relation F = 7d + 1.65. Linfluence sur
le coefficient de forme de la proximite
de la nappc
phreatique
est pratiquement
negligeable sauf lorsque le
piezomttre itait a quelques longueurs de piezomttre de la
nappe phreatique. Les coefficients de forme ont igalement
tte Ctablis pour des piezometres cylindriques
enfonces
dans des ichantillons
de sols cylindriques soumis aux cinq
conditions aux limites possibles. Les coefficients de forme
mesurts
Ctaient superieurs
ou inferieurs aux valeurs
infinies dependant
des conditions
aux hmites, et de la
proximite des limites par rapport au piezometre. Ces
donnees permettent
de se faire une certaine idte de la
performance
de sondes de pression interstitielle utilisees
dans des tchantillons
de laboratoire
et sont utiles pour
lanalyse des conditions dicoulement
stationnaire
ainsi
que pour Ievaluation des rtponses des pitzometres.

INTRODUCTION

Piezometers are widely used for measuring in situ pore pressure and for the insitu determination
of certain soil properties. A piezometer system with a quick response is often important for the
accurate measurement
of pore pressure, and a complete understanding
of the factors which
govern the response characteristics
is crucial to accurate determinations
of soil properties.
Hvorslev (195 1) derived the theoretical time lag for a piezometer system in an incompressible
soil by using the basic differential equation that governs the saturated flow through a falling
head permeameter. The pore pressure u, at any time C,in a piezometer in a soil of permeability k
was shown to be related to the initial pore pressure a,, in the piezometer and the equalization
pore pressure u, by
U
-U
m
= exp ( - Fkt/Vy,)
4c -uo

where yw is the unit weight of the water, and F and Vare respectively the shape factor (or intake
factor) of the piezometer and the volume factor of the piezometer system.
The shape factor and the volume factor, together with the soil permeability,
govern the
response characteristics
of a piezometer system in an incompressible
soil and can be thought of
as the piezometer system characteristics.
These characteristics
can be defined as follows.
Discussion on this Paper closes 1 March, 1981. For further details see inside back cover.
* Public Works Department,
Hong Kong.
t Asian Institute of Technology,
Bangkok.

370

E. W. BRAND AND J. PREMCHITT

Shapefactor F is a physical dimension of the piezometer which determines the rate of flow q
into the piezometer under a fixed head drop H as
q=FkH

(2)

ViZumefactor Vis the volume of water required to flow into or out of the piezometer system to
equalize a unit pressure difference between the piezometer system and the surrounding soil.

In compressible soils, the consolidation and swelling of the soil surrounding a piezometer
plays a major part in piezometer response (Gibson, 1963), and equation (1) does not govern the
equalization process. Nevertheless, shape factor and volume factor play equally important parts
for piezometers in compressible and incompressible soils.
The volume factor represents the hydraulic flexibility of the piezometer system, which
comprises the piezometer itself, the measuring system and all connecting tubes and valves. Its
absolute value can be measured fairly easily for a given system, or it may be computed from the
volume flexibilities of the separate components.
The shape factor of a piezometer is a function ofits physical dimensions, and this controls the
flow pattern in the soil surrounding the piezometer. It is independent of the soil permeability.
The shape factor is generally a characteristic of an axisymmetrical flow net, since the porous
element of a piezometer is nearly always axisymmetrical in shape. Because the flow net is
affected by the shape and size of the body of soil in which the piezometer is placed, the value of F
is also affected by the physical dimensions of the flow regime and by the conditions at its
boundaries. For a spherical pizometer in a spherical or infinite body of soil, it is possible to
integrate directly the governing equation of flow to obtain a closed-form solution for shape
factor. For piezometers of practical shape however the partial differential equation which
governs the flow cannot usually be solved by analytical means, and no closed-form solutions are
available for the commonly used piezometers.
Apart from their use in predictions of response times of piezometer systems, precise values of
shape factor are vital to the accurate interpretation of in situ methods to determine coefficients
of permeability, consolidation and earth pressure (see Hvorslev, 1951; Gibson, 1963; Bishop &
Al-Dhahir, 1969; Wilkinson, Barden & Rocke, 1969; Bjerrum & Andersen, 1972; Penman, 1975).
Very little attention has been given to the accurate determination of shape factor for cylindrical
piezometers and less still to those for other shapes. Various approaches have been used by
several investigators to obtain numerical solutions for some cylindrical piezometers, but the
values they obtained are not in general agreement, and objections can be raised to some of the
experimental techniques employed. For these reasons, and because of the importance of shape
factors to in situ measurements, the Authors set out to establish reliable values for cylindrical
piezometers, which they consider have not been available hitherto. Because piezometers have
been the subject of response studies (Penman, 1961; Brooker & Lindberg, 1965) and are used for
laboratory measurements, an examination was also undertaken of the effects of boundary
proximity and boundary conditions on measured shape factors. An electric analogue model, in
the form of an electrolytic tank, and a finite difference model were both employed to meet the
objectives of the study.
PREVIOUS

SHAPE FACTOR DETERMINATIONS

To assign a value of shape factor to a piezometer, it is necessary to determine the theoretical


flow rate into the piezometer. The Laplace equation (V2 u = 0) which governs the steady state
flow in a porous medium can be solved in closed-form only for a spherical piezometer, for which
it can readily be shown that F = 2nd, where d is the diameter of the sphere. Piezometers used in

ed.

SHAPE FACTORS

OF CYLINDRICAL

371

PIEZOMETERS

practice are virtually all axisymmetrical, and the steady state flow to these is governed by the
equation
la
1au
(i%=O
__
_-

rar()
rar +a22

where the pore pressure u is expressed in terms of the cylindrical co-ordinates (I, z). No closedform solution is available for a cylindrical cavity in an infinite medium. Dachler (1936) derived a
solution for the flow from a line source for which the equipotential surface was a hemispheroid,
and Hvorslev (1951) applied this solution to a cylindrical piezometer by representing the
cylinder by its inscribed prolate spheroid, to obtain the shape factor as
2nl
F = log(I/d+J[1+(l/d)2]}

(4)

where 1and dare the length and diameter of the piezometer. This equation is only approximate,
the error in the shape factor calculated by equation (4) increasing as l/d decreases.
Kallstenius & Wallgren (1956) presented an alternative derivation of equation (4) by
considering the steady state flow to a spherical piezometer. They suggested that a piezometer of
any shape could be represented by a spherical piezometer with the same surface area. This leads
to the simple expression for shape factor: F = 2,/(nS), where S is the surface area. For
cylindrical piezometers
F = 2nJ(ld)

(5)

This expression predicts F values much below those of Hvorslevs values for l/d< 1 and for
l/d> 15. In practice cylindrical piezometers generally have l/d ratios between 4 and 10, and for
this range, equation (5) gives F values which are within f 5% of those given by equation (4).
Wilkinson (1968) noted that Hvorslevs expression slightly underestimated the value of F, and
he suggested that a more accurate value could be obtained by representing the cylinder by an
inscribed prolate spheroid with its major axis adjusted so that its volume was equal to that ofthe
cylinder. This empirical adjustment results in
3lrl
F = log {la/d+JCl

+UW421}

(6)

which is equivalent to equation (4) with l/d replaced by 1.51/d.


Smiles & Youngs (1965) employed an electric analogue model to measure directly shape
factors for cylindrical cavities with l/d ratios in the range &4. A square tank,
1000 x 1000 x 250 mm deep filled with water, simulated the soil medium, while brass rods
represented the piezometers. The shape factor was determined from the resistance between the
brass rod and the brass sheet at the boundary of the tank as measured by an AC bridge with a
cathode ray oscilloscope as the null indicator. The values of shape factor measured in this way
were generally about 15% higher than those predicted by equation (4).
Numerical analysis for shape factors of cylindrical piezometers has been carried out using
finite differences by only Al-Dahir & Morgenstern (1969) and Raymond & Azzouz (1969). AlDhahir & Morgenstern employed the Gauss-Siedel successive over-relaxation technique to
examine the flow towards cylindrical piezometers in an infinite porous medium (with a
diameter 50 times the piezometer diameter); their results were within about 5% of those obtained
experimentally by Smiles dz Youngs (1965) for l/d ratios of &4. Using a similar numerical
technique, however, Raymond & Azzouz (1969) arrived at shape factor values which averaged
only about 70% of those reported by Al-Dhahir & Morgenstern (1969); unfortunately, they gave
no details of their finite difference method.

312

E. W. BRAND AND J. PREMCHITT

X Smiles
0

Al-Dhohir

8 Youngs

(1965)

8 Morgenstern

(1969)

Length/diameter
Fig. 1. Previously published shape factor measurements
between shape factor and length/diameter ratio

IO

12

14

16

(P/d)

for cylindrical piezometers, and the relationships proposed

The results of the direct determinations of shape factor by Smiles & Youngs (1965) Al-Dhahir
& Morgenstern (1969) and Raymond & Azzouz (1969) are plotted in Fig. 1 in terms of the ratio
F/d for cylindrical piezometers with l/d ratios from (r20. These may be compared with the
closed-form solutions of Hvorslev (1951), Kallstenius & Wallgren (1956) and Wilkinson (1968).
Figure 1 illustrates clearly the present uncertainty which exists over the numerical values of
shape factor for cylindrical piezometers; it is also apparent that reliable measurements have
been limited to an l/d ratio of less than 4.
PROGRAMME
The

OF SHAPE FACTOR

STUDIES

three express objectives of the Authors programme of shape factor studies were

(a) to establish for field use accurate values of shape factor for cylindrical piezometers with
l/d ratios from 2 to 15
(b) to evaluate the effect on its shape factor of the proximity of a piezometer to the watertable
(c) to examine the influence of boundary conditions on the shape factors of piezometers
used in laboratory test specimens
To achieve these objectives, a circular electrolytic tank model (liquid analogue) was used, all the
results obtained from part (c) being checked against those obtained by means of a finite
difference model.
Shape factors for cylindrical piezometers in an infinite medium were established by means of
the liquid analogue alone after calibration with spherical model piezometers to ensure its
validity and to enable the cylindrical piezometers to be modelled at a scale that ensured the
accurate representation of an infinite flow regime. A secondary calibration of the model was
achieved by carrying out the shape factor measurements with two separate boundary
conditions to ensure that no boundary effects existed. A boundary of a flow regime can
theoretically be a recharge (or drainage) boundary, where the pore pressure u = constant (i.e. an
equipotential surface); or an impermeable boundary, where au/az = 0 or where au/& = 0 (i.e. a
flow surface).

SHAPE FACTORS OF CYLINDRICAL

Bl
I

1
I

(a) Boundary conditions

.
A{
I.

B2

examined

Brass model
.-piezometers
\rll
.-Top

I
1

373

PIEZOMETERS

T
i

&/boss

81

water mesh--

y
--_

-_--

I
(b)

Simulation

of boundary

conditions

in liquid

analogue

Fig. 2. Boundary conditions Bl and B2 used with the liquid electric analogue model for measurements of shape factors for
cyliklrical piezometers in an infinite medium

In the field, the flow regime in the region of a piezometer is generally of finite extent in a
vertical direction, the soil stratum in question being bounded by a relatively impermeable
surface below and a water-table (equipotential surface) above. These boundary conditions,
designated as Bl in Fig. 2, were first applied to the model (in which the water-table is inverted),
and the shape factor measurements were repeated for boundary conditions B2.
Frevert & Kirkham (1948) reported that the proximity of an open-ended tube to the watertable had a significant effect on the measured shape factor. This might be important for the
determination of in situ soil properties, and it was investigated for cylindrical piezometers in the
liquid analogue.
Where piezometers are used for laboratory measurements, they are most commonly placed in
cylindrical soil specimens with length twice the diameter, the side and end boundaries of which
are either impermeable surfaces (rubber membranes and solid end platens) or drainage surfaces
(filter paper drains or porous end platens). The five possible sets of boundary conditions are
illustrated in Fig. 3, where they are designated as Bl-B5. These five boundary conditions
represent commonly used drainage mechanisms for biaxial specimens, and all were examined in
the shape factor studies. Both the electric analogue and the finite difference model were used to
determine the shape factors, the variables examined being the boundary conditions, the ratio of
specimen diameter D to piezometer diameter d, the l/d ratio for the piezometer, and the vertical
position of the piezometer relative to the end platens.
THE ELECTRIC

ANALOGUE

MODEL

The electric analogue model was constructed specially for the shape factor measurements. A
cylindrical electrolytic tank, 900mm diameter and 500mm deep, was made of 3 mm thick
perspex with a 6mm perspex bottom plate. The electrolyte used was water. The model
piezometers were made of brass and were located on the axis of the tank. The recharge
boundaries at the sides and bottom of the tank were represented by a BS No. 30 brass wire mesh.

314

E. W. BRAND AND J. PREMCHITT

B2

Bl

B4

83

Recharge

Impermeable

or drainage

B5

boundary

boundary

Fig. 3. Boundary conditions BlLB5 used for measurements of shape factors for cylindrical piezometers in a cylindrical
soil specimen with length/diameter ratio of 2

For the tests conducted to examine boundary effects in laboratory specimens, 1 mm brass plate
was formed into cylinders which were placed symmetrically
in the tank. An AC bridge was used
for measurements
between the two electrodes.
The cylindrical piezometers used for shape factor measurements
in an infinite porous medium
were represented by a 3 mm diameter brass rod wrapped with PVC insulating tape except along
an exposed length which was varied to achieve the desired range of l/d ratios. The ratio of
piezometer diameter d to tank diameter D therefore was 300, and this was found to satisfy the
condition for an infinite porous medium (see below). The insulated rod was held in a screw
clamp attached to a vertical lory which was, in turn, mounted on a horizontal lory positioned
across the tank diameter. For the simulation of piezometers in laboratory specimens, 12.7 mm
diameter brass models were attached to an insulated brass rod. By means of the lory system, any
piezometer could be positioned in the electrolytic tank to an accuracy of 01 mm.
The measurement
ofshape factor was carried out in much the same way as that used by Smiles
& Youngs (1965), but some small refinements were adopted. The resistance of the electrolyte
between the electrodes was determined by means of an AC bridge circuit energized by a constant
9 volts 50 Hz power supply. Resistances were measured to an accuracy of 1% by using a digital
voltmeter as a null indicator. Measurements
were made quickly to avoid polarization.
The
shape factor F was calculated directly from the measured resistance R as
F = l/oR

(7)

where cr is the specific conductivity


of the electrolyte.
The conductivity
ofthe tap water used as the electrolyte was measured in a cylindrical perspex
conductivity
cell 140 mm diameter and 400 mm long. Two brass discs in the cell were used as
electrodes in the same AC bridge employed with the electrolytic
tank, and the resistance
between the discs was measured for various lengths ofelectrolyte column by varying the spacing
between the discs. The conductivity
of the tap water was found to vary significantly
with
temperature
(Fig. 4), a fact which has not been mentioned previously by those working with
liquid analogue models. The variation of about 1.4 x 10e6 mho/mm (or about 2%) per degree
Celsius at 25 C would cause appreciable errors in shape factor measurements
in conditions
where a controlled
temperature
environment
was not available and where the conductivity

SHAPE

FACTORS

OF CYLINDRICAL

80

375

PIEZOMETERS

75 -

70 -

I
21

65
20

I
23

22

I
24

Temperature,
Fig. 4.

0
0
v
x

Sample 1

2
n
3
.
4

25

26

27

28

Measured variation with temperature of tbe specific conductivity of tap water

Table 1.

Calibration of liquid electric analogue by brass spheres

Sphere diameter

d:

Ratio diameter
diameter

mm

tank

Measured

18
35
41
71

50.8
25.4
19.05
12-7

F/d

Theoretical

F/d

sphere
6.78
6.48
6.43
6.35

6.28

variations
were not appreciated.
The Authors measurements
were carried out in an
environment
where the temperature
varied only a few degrees, and a thermometer
was used
constantly
to measure the temperature
of the water in the electrolytic tank.
In order to calibrate the electrolytic tank, measurements
were first made of shape factors for
spherical piezometers, for which F = 2nd or F/d = 6.28. Brass spheres with diameters 12.5, 19,
25 and 50 mm were used for this purpose, each being suspended mid-depth in the water by a
nylon sling attached to the horizontal lory over the tank. The results are shown in Table 1, where
it can be seen that the value of F/d approached
6.28 as the ratio of the tank diameter to the
piezometer diameter increased. For the largest diameter ratio of 71, the F/d value was only
about 1% above the theoretical value for an infinite medium.
THE FINITE DIFFERENCE MODEL
The finite difference

form of equation

(3) can be written

for node (i,j) as

Ui+,,j+Ui_~,j+(1+h/2rj)Ui,j+~+(l-h/2rj)Ui,j-,-4Ui,j=O

(8)

where h is the node spacing (mesh size), and r is the radial distance of node (i,j) from the axis; i
and j increase in the z and r directions respectively. The most powerful means for solving the
system of finite difference equations is the Gauss-Siedel
iterative method with over-relaxation
(Forsythe & Wasow, 1960), and this was adopted by the Authors, as it had been by Al-Dhahir &
Morgenstern (1969) for their work on shape factors. The piezometer was treated as a sink (u = 0)

E. W. BRAND AND J. PREMCHI-M

1.84

1.86

1.88

Over-

1.90

relaxation

Fig. 5. Effect of the value of the over-relaxation


boundary conditions B2 and B3

1.92

1.94

parameter

1.96

I .98

2.00

(Cd)

parameter on the rate of convergence of the finite difference solutions for

and the recharge boundaries were assigned the value u = 10. The iteration was terminated when
the maximum difference between two successive values of the pore pressure at any node was less
than 0N105.
Although
convergence
is ensured by the nature of the Laplace equation,
the rate of
convergence
was found to depend on the boundary
conditions
and the value of the
over-relaxation
parameter, w. At first, the Authors used the value w = 1.9, shown to be the
theoretical optimum by Forsythe & Wasow (1960), and this resulted in rapid convergence for
boundary conditions
Bl, B4 and B5 (Fig. 3). Convergence
for B3 however was appreciably
slower and B2 required almost 400 iterations. Al-Dhahir & Morgenstern
had experienced the
same difficulty. An examination
was made of the effect of the over-relaxation
parameter on the
rate of convergence for boundary conditions B2 and B3, with the result shown in Fig. 5. The
optimum value of w for B3 is confirmed as being in the region of 1.90; for B2 the optimum value
of w = 1.96 resulted in convergence being achieved in 200 iterations.
As in the liquid analogue tests, the cylindrical piezometers were simulated as being permeable
only over their curved surface. The piezometer ends were assumed to be impermeable, and the
boundary condition au/& = 0 was assigned. A singularity existed at each of the four corners of
the piezometer where it was necessary for the node to satisfy the condition u = 0 for the curved
permeable surface and au/dz = 0 for the impermeable
end cap. Al-Dhahir
& Morgenstern
(1969) showed that this difficulty has a critical effect on shape factors calculated by finite
differences, and they dealt with the singularity
by calculating
F values for both boundary
conditions for a range of mesh sizes. The two values of F converged to a unique value at zero
mesh size, thus eliminating the effects of both singularity and mesh size. The Authors adopted
this same technique, a typical example of which is illustrated in Fig. 6.
When convergence had been achieved for the finite difference solution to the pore pressure
distribution
in the flow regime, the flow rate to the piezometer was calculated by the contour
integration method. For steady state flow, the flow rate through any closed surface around the
piezometer should be the same and should be equal to the flow rate into the piezometer. Three

SHAPE FACTORS

OF CYLINDRICAL

377

PIEZOMETERS

Mesh

size / piezometer

diameter

Fig. 6. Effect of mesh size and singularity condition on the value of shape factor determined from the finite difference
model (I/d = 2, D/d = 8)

Table 2.

Measured shape factors for cylindrical piezometers in infinite soil body


1

Ratio d
2
4
6
8
12
15

Measured F/d for


boundary conditions Bl

Measured F/d for


boundary conditions B2

9.10
13.51
17.21
20.30
26.77
30.74

8.80
13.36
16.95
20.10
26.41
30.69

Ratio gi
1.03
1.01
1.01
1.01
1.01
1.00

cylindrical surfaces were selected in each case, the shape factor being computed from the flow
rates through each of these. Shape factors so determined were accepted as accurate if the three
values were all within 1% of each other.
The results obtained from the finite difference model were all checked independently
by
measurements
carried out in the liquid analogue model. In no case did the discrepancy between
the two values of shape factor exceed 2%. The Authors are confident, therefore, that their results
are completely reliable.
SHAPE FACTORS

OF CYLINDRICAL

PIEZOMETERS

IN INFINITE SOIL

The calibration of the electrolytic tank by spherical piezometers verified that infinite values of
shape factor would be determined for pizometers located at mid-depth in the centre of the tank.
The values of F/d determined in this way, with the ratio of the tank diameter to piezometer
diameter of 300, are listed in Table 2 for the two boundary conditions Bl and B2 (Fig. 2). It can
be seen that the values are very nearly the same for the two boundary conditions, which verifies
that the distance to the boundaries
was sufficiently large not to affect the measured shape
factors.

E. W. BRAND AND J. PREMCHITT

_*

xi

0
A
I

ti
Length

Fig. 7.

/ diameter

Al - Dhohir 8 Morgenstern(l969
Roymond 8 Azzoui
(1969)
I

IO

I2

14

16

(l/d)

Measured shape factors for cylindrical piezometers in an infinite medium as a function of length/diameter

ratio

The measured infinite shape factors (for boundary conditions Bl) are plotted in Fig. 7 in terms
ofthe ratio F/d versus the ratio l/d, and these are compared with the results obtained by previous
investigators.
The Authors results are seen to be in good agreement with those of Smiles &
Youngs (1965) and Al-Dhahir & Morgenstern (1969) all of which give shape factors appreciably
higher than those determined
by Raymond
& Azzouz (1969). The empirical closed-form
expressions for F/d proposed by Hvorslev (1951) Kallstenius & Wallgren (1956) and Wilkinson
(1968) do not fit the experimental results well. A good fit is obtained however if l/d in Hvorslevs
equation (4) is replaced by 1.21/d to give
2.4nl
F = log {1.21/d+&
For piezometers with l/d 2 4, the measured
error by the relationship

+wv021~

shape factors can be approximated

F = 7d+ 1,651
VARIATION

OF SHAPE FACTOR

(9)
with negligible

(10)

WITH DEPTH BELOW WATER-TABLE

The effect of the proximity of the water-table on the shape factor of a piezometer is a boundary
effect, but it is worth consideration
separate from other boundary effects because of its practical
implications.
For boundary conditions Bl and B2, the electrolytic tank was used to measure the variations
in F values with depth below the water-table for a whole range of vertical boundary proximities.
When a piezometer was placed in a narrow flow regime, the effects of depth were very marked,
but this decreased as the regime widened. The only significant results were those obtained with
boundary
conditions
Bl applied to the semi-infinite
condition (i.e. where the ratio of tank
diameter to piezometer diamehr
was 300 and the piezometer approached
the water-table).
These results are shown in Fig. 8. In Fig. 8(a), the measured values of F/d are plotted against the
ratio of the piezometer depth to piezometer diameter z/d; it is apparent that the effect of the

SHAPE FACTORS

OF CYLINDRICAL

379

PIEZOMETERS

12.5

A
X

$d
n

10.0 -

0
A
0
X

ox

x5*
0
L

4
6
0
12

,e
I ,8 5.0 -

IL I

2.5-

I
A
0

I
4

I
3

I
2

I
I

Depth below water- table/piezometer

length

(z/l )

03

30

20
a/d

=4
0

P/d=2

IO F

0
4

IO

20

Depth below water pietometer


diameter

Illll[

40

60 80

100

table /
(z/d 1

(4

Fig. 8. Variation with depth below water-table of measured shape factors for cylindrical piezometers (a) shape factors
expressed in terms of the ratio of depth below water-table z to piezometer diameter d, (b) increase in shape factor F from
infinite value F, aswater-table is approached (depth z is measured from piezometer centre)

380

E. W.

B2

BRAND

AND .I. PREMCHITT

B4

tz

( F/d = 11.19)

Fig. 9. Equipotential lines for steady state flow to a piezometer (l/d = 2) in a soil specimen (L/D = 2, D/d = 8) to which
boundary conditions B2, B3 and 84 are applied (the horizontal scale is 1.2 times the natural scale)

water-table is insignificant except for long piezometers very close to it. In Fig. 8(b), the results are
shown in terms of the deviation of the shape factor from the infinite value for piezometers within
five lengths of the water-table; the deviation is within 10% until the piezometer is within one
length of the water-table.
For most practical purposes the water-table effect is negligible.
SHAPE

FACTORS

FOR

PIEZOMETERS

IN LABORATORY

SPECIMENS

When steady state flow occurs into or out of a piezometer located in a soil specimen, the
distribution
of pore pressures (potentials) in the specimen is governed by the geometries of the
piezometer and the specimen and by the drainage conditions at the specimen boundaries. The
pore pressure distribution
in turn controls the rate of flow and hence the shape factor of the
piezometer under those particular conditions. It is clear that there is an infinite number of shape
factors for cylindrical piezometers in cylindrical soil specimens because of the infinite number of
flow regime geometries which are possible. For this reason, it is worthwhile for only typical
results ofthe Authors measurements
to be presented to illustrate the main factors which control
the rates of flow and hence the shape factors of the piezometers.
The shape factor values
computed for boundary conditions Bl, B4 and B5 (Fig. 3) were almost the same; typical results
will be given to show the effects of boundary conditions B2, B3 and B4, and the proximity of the
boundaries to the piezometer in terms of the ratios of: specimen diameter to piezometer diameter
D/d;specimen length to piezometer length L/l;
and depth of piezometer below end cap to
piezometer diameter z/d.

SHAPE FACTORS

OF CYLINDRICAL

PIEZOMETERS

Specimen

381

I2

diameter/

Fig. 10. Effect of boundary proximity and bwndary


specimens for which l/d = L/D = 2

piezometer

30
21:

OO

20

24

diameter

28

(D/d)

conditions on shape factors for cylindrical piezometers in soil

Piezometer / length
2

I6

diameter

I
8

I
12

I
I6

U/d)
IO

I2

I4

/!!jy

I
4

I
20

I
24

, 1

Specimen diameter/ piezometer diameter ( D/d )


Fig. 11. Variation in shape factor with piezometer diameter for piezometers of constant length embedded in a soil
specimen (L/I = 4)

The effect of the boundary conditions on the rate of flow into a piezometer at the centre of a
specimen is illustrated
directly in Fig. 9; here the pore pressure distributions
(in terms of
equipotential
lines) are compared for boundary
conditions
B2, B3 and B4 for the situation
where L/l = D/d = 8 and L/D = l/d = 2. Plotted in Fig. 10 are the shape factors measured for a
range of values of L/l for piezometers
with the same proportions
as the specimen, i.e.
l/d = L/D = 2. As would be expected, boundary conditions B4 result in higher measured shape
factors than do conditions B2 and B3, but the B4 values are always higher than the infinite shape

E. W. BRAND

382
Piezometer length /diameter

OO

12

I
8

I
12

I
I6

Specimen length / piezometer length

AND I. PREMCHIIT

(P/d 1
2

I
20

I
24

28

(L/e)

Fig. 12. Variation in shape factor with piezometer length for piezometers of constant diameter embedded in a soil
specimen (D/d = 24)

factors, whereas the B2 and B3 values are always lower. As the distance from the boundaries to
the piezometer increases, the infinite F value is approached
in each case; but even when
D/d = 24 the B2 value reaches less than 65% of the infinite value.
Measured shape factors are shown in Fig. 11 for piezometers of constant length (L/Z = 4) but
variable diameter, and in Fig. 12 for piezometers of constant diameter (D/d = 24) but variable
length. The dominant
effect of the specimen ends is apparent where the piezometer length
approaches that of the specimen; this is the same as the water-table effect already noted above.
The effect of the depth of the piezometer in the soil specimen is illustrated in Fig. 13 for the two
situations where D/d = 24 and 11; only the two extreme boundary conditions
B2 and B4 are
considered.
The shape factors for boundary
conditions
B2 are greatly affected by the
piezometers position in the specimen, whereas little effect was measured for condition B4.
The results depicted in Figs 9-13 provide guidance to the performance
of pore pressure
probes in soil specimens and to the efficiency of the various methods of draining triaxial
specimens during consolidation.
They can also be used to determine accurately the permeability
of cylindrical soil specimens directly from constant head tests in which steady state conditions
have been achieved.
The results in Figs 9-13 are also of relevance in the interpretation
of the data obtained by
Penman (1961) and Brooker & Lindberg (1965), both of whom examined the performance
characteristics
of field piezometers by installing them in large cylindrical soil specimens in the
laboratory.
Both investigations
were concerned
entirely with the response rates of the
piezometers. Penman concluded that the time to 100% response was inversely proportional
to
the shape factor, as predicted by Hvorslevs theory (equation (1)) but that the theoretically
predicted response curves were quite different from those measured. Brooker & Lindberg also
found that Hvorslevs theory only gave good predictions of response times for responses greater
than 90%. Since both investigations
employed a clay soil, it is not surprising that Hvorslevs

SHAPE FACTORS

OF CYLINDRICAL

383

PIEZOMETERS

1,

1
P/d = 12

i5
6

(a)D/d=24
-B4,
--

0
0

82,
IO

Distance

15

20

of piezometer

from drainage

84, -5

82,
IO

platten/piezometer

15

20

25

diameter(z/d)

Fig. 13. Variation in shape factor with depth of embedment for piezometers of constant diameter embedded in soil
specimens subjected to boundary conditions B2 and B4

theory for incompressible


soils provided poor agreement with experimental
response times
during the early stages of equalization.
The theory of piezometer response in compressible soils
(Gibson, 1963) was not available when Penman conducted his experiments,
but Brooker &
Lindberg did compare their results with those predicted by Gibsons theory; they reached the
surprising conclusion
that Hvorslevs theory gave better predictions
of the time-response
relationships.
It is probable that the conclusions drawn from their experimental
results by Penman (1961)
and Brooker & Lindberg (1965) are unsound for a number of reasons, one of these being their
failure to appreciate that the shape factor of a piezometer in a restricted flow regime is not a
unique quantity but is a function of the geometry of the flow regime and the boundary
conditions.
At the time that the two investigations
were carried out, not even reasonably
accurate infinite shape factors for piezometers were available, and the investigators relied upon
Hvorslevs empirical equation (equation (4)) for the interpretation
of their results.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The work described in this Paper was carried out in the Geotechnical
& Transportation
Engineering Division of the Asian Institute of Technology, as part of a continuing programme
of research into the engineering
behaviour of soft clays.
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