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4.

Soil Permeability and


Seepage
Soil Mechanics
2010 - 2011

Permeability

Is a measure of how easily a fluid (water) can pass through


a porous medium (soil).

Loose Soil
High permeability

Dense Soil
Low permeability

Dr. Manal A. Salem Soil Mechanics

Soil Permeability

Applications (examples):
1.

Water wells
a.
b.

2.

Earth dams
a.
b.

3.

Water production
Dewatering
Estimate quantity of water seeping through the dam
Evaluating stability of dam

Ground improvement by preloading

Dr. Manal A. Salem Soil Mechanics

Darcys Law

Water moves through soil with


discharge Q, and velocity v.
Q = A.v
v i
v h/L
v = kh/L
Q = Akh/L
where:

Q = V/t

Soil

Q = water discharge (volume/time)


A = area perpendicular to flow direction
v = velocity of flow (length/time)
L
i = hydraulic gradient = h/L
h = total head difference
Direction of flow
L = length parallel to flow direction
k = coefficient of soil permeability

Dr. Manal A. Salem Soil Mechanics

Coefficient of Permeability k

Also called hydraulic conductivity

k=v/i

Define k: the velocity of water flowing


through a soil medium under a unit hydraulic
gradient

Note:
flow of water through soil is governed by:
1.
2.

Head difference (i=h/l)


Soil permeability (k)

Dr. Manal A. Salem Soil Mechanics

Bernoullis Equation
G.S.
hv1=v12/2g

Clay

hp1=u1/w

1
ht1

Water
flow

Sand

z1

Clay

h t = z + hp + h v

h
hv2=v22/2g
hp2=u2/w

ht2

z2

Datum

where:
z = position head (elevation head)
hp = pressure head = u/w: u = pore-water pressure
hv = velocity head = v2/2g
very small in soil and may
be neglected
Dr. Manal A. Salem Soil Mechanics

Bernoullis Equation
G.S.
hv1=v12/2g

Clay

hp1=u1/w

1
ht1

Water
flow

Sand

h
2/2g

hv2=v2

hp2=u2/w

z1

ht2

z2

Clay

Datum

h t ~ z + hp
hp is determined using piezometer (later)
h = total head difference, if h = 0, no flow.

Dr. Manal A. Salem Soil Mechanics

Seepage and Discharge Velocities

Discharge velocity (v):

velocity of flow through entire cross-section.


Q = Av
Can be measured.

Seepage velocity (vs):

velocity of flow through voids.


Q = Avvs
Cant be measured, only calculated, how?

Total area
(A)

Area of voids
(Av)

Dr. Manal A. Salem Soil Mechanics

Seepage and Discharge Velocities

Q = Av = Avvs
Therefore: vs = v ( A/AV)
Multiplying both areas (A and Av) by the length of the
medium (L)
vS = v ( AL / AVL ) = v ( VT / VV )
where:
VT = total volume of sample
VV = volume of voids within sample
By Definition, Vv / VT = n, the soil porosity
Thus

vS = v/ n
Dr. Manal A. Salem Soil Mechanics

Factors affecting k

Soil type
ksand > kclay

Void ratio
kloose sand > kdense

A
sand

Particles orientation
kB > kA

Soil Structure
kflocculated > kdispersed

Type of fluid
Viscosity
,k

flocculated

dispersed

Temperature
Temperature

, Viscosity

,k
Dr. Manal A. Salem Soil Mechanics

Laboratory determination of k
1.

Constant head test

2.

Falling head test

Dr. Manal A. Salem Soil Mechanics

Constant Head Test

Head difference
constant

Apply Darcys law:

Continuous
water supply

Q = Av
V/t = Akh/L
k = VL/Aht

Overflow:
Volume V in
Time t

where
V = volume of water collected
in time = t
h = constant head difference

Direction
of flow

A = x-sectional area of soil


specimen
L = length of soil specimen

Suitable for coarse-grained soils.


Dr. Manal A. Salem Soil Mechanics

Falling Head Test

Head is variable

Coefficient of permeability (k) can


be calculated using the following
relationship:

h
Ak
ln 1 =
T
h2 La

ho
hf

where:

Overflow

h1 = initial head difference at time = 0


h2 = final head difference at time T
a = x-sectional area of standpipe
A = x-sectional area of soil specimen

Direction of
flow

L = length of soil specimen

Suitable for fine-grained soils.


Dr. Manal A. Salem Soil Mechanics

Falling Head Test


Q = A v = A k i = A.k.
Q at time dt =
From 1 and 2:

dh.a
dt
A.k.

aL dh
.
Ak h
h
T
aL f dh
dt =
Ak ho h
0
hf
aL
ln h ho
T =
Ak
h o Ak
ln h = La T
f
dt =

h
-------- (1)
L
-------- (2)

h
dh.a
=
L
dt

ho
hf
Overflow

Direction of
flow

Dr. Manal A. Salem Soil Mechanics

Limitations of permeability lab tests

Non-homogeneity of soil

Anisotropy of soil

Sampling disturbance

Cracks and inclusions

Dr. Manal A. Salem Soil Mechanics

Field determination of k

Definitions:

Aquifer: a water-bearing layer of soil with considerable


amount of water.
Confined versus unconfined aquifers.

Dr. Manal A. Salem Soil Mechanics

Field determination of k

Definitions:

Piezometer: a small-diameter pipe used to measure the


groundwater head in aquifers.

Piezometers

Dr. Manal A. Salem Soil Mechanics

Field determination of k
1.

Gravity (unconfined) Aquifer:

Initial water table

Aquitard

Dr. Manal A. Salem Soil Mechanics

Field determination of k
1.

Gravity (unconfined) Aquifer:


Pumping well

Initial water table

Aquitard

Dr. Manal A. Salem Soil Mechanics

Field determination of k
1.

Gravity (unconfined) Aquifer:


Pumping well

Initial water table

Draw down water table

Aquitard

Dr. Manal A. Salem Soil Mechanics

10

Field determination of k
1.

Gravity (unconfined) Aquifer:


Pumping well

Piezometer (1)

Q
r1

r2
Piezometer (2)

Initial water table

h2

h1
Draw down water table

h2

h1
Aquitard

Dr. Manal A. Salem Soil Mechanics

Field determination of k
1.

Gravity (unconfined) Aquifer:

Pump water from


well at a constant rate
(Q) until reach steady
state (water level in
observation wells is
constant)
Field measurements:
Q, r1, r2, h1, h2,
where:
h1 = H h1
h2 = H h2

Pumping well
Initial water
table

Piezometer (1)

r2

r1

Piezometer (2)

h2

h1
Draw down water
table

h1

h2

Aquitard

Calculate k

k=

Q ln(r2 / r1 )
h22 h12
Dr. Manal A. Salem Soil Mechanics

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Field determination of k
2.

Artesian (confined) Aquifer:

Aquitard

Aquitard

Dr. Manal A. Salem Soil Mechanics

Field determination of k
2.

Artesian (confined) Aquifer:


Initial piezometric
surface

Pumping well

Aquitard

Dr. Manal A. Salem Soil Mechanics

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Field determination of k
2.

Artesian (confined) Aquifer:


Initial piezometric
surface

Q
Pumping well

Draw down
piezometric line

Aquitard

Dr. Manal A. Salem Soil Mechanics

Field determination of k
2.

Artesian (confined) Aquifer:


Initial piezometric
surface

Q
Pumping well

r1

Piezometer (1)

r2

Piezometer (2)

h2

h1
Draw down
piezometric line

h1

h2

Aquitard

Dr. Manal A. Salem Soil Mechanics

13

Field determination of k
2.

Artesian (confined) Aquifer:

Pump water
from well at a
constant rate (Q)
until reach
steady state

Initial piezometric
Pumping well
surface

Field
measurements:
Q, r1, r2, h1, h2,
where:
h1 = H h1
h2 = H h2

Piezometer (1)

r2

r1

Piezometer (2)

h2

h1
Draw down
piezometric line

h1

h2

H D

Aquitard

Calculate k

k=

Q ln(r2 / r1 )
2D h2 h1
Dr. Manal A. Salem Soil Mechanics

Field determination of k

Overcomes the limitations of laboratory tests.

Much more expensive compared to laboratory


tests.

Dr. Manal A. Salem Soil Mechanics

14

Empirical Correlations for k


1.

Coarse-grained soils

Hazens (1930):

k (cm / sec) = cD102


where
c = constant ranging from 1 to 2
D10 = effective grain size in mm

Chapuis (2004):

e3
k (cm / sec) = 2.4622 D102

(1 + e)

where

0.7825

e = void ratio
D10 = effective grain size in mm
Dr. Manal A. Salem Soil Mechanics

Empirical Correlations for k


2.

Fine-grained soils

en

k = C
1+ e
where
C and n = constants determined experimentally
e = void ratio

Dr. Manal A. Salem Soil Mechanics

15

Empirical Correlations for k


Example: A clayey soil was tested in the lab and the following
values were determined:
Void ratio

k (cm/sec)

1.1

0.302 x 10-7

0.9

0.12 x 10-7

Estimate k for void ratio = 0.75


Answer:

(1.1) n

0.302x10 = C
1
1
.
1
+

en

k = C
1
+
e

(0.9) n

0.120x107 = C
1 + 0.9
Dr. Manal A. Salem Soil Mechanics

Empirical Correlations for k


Example: A clayey soil was tested in the lab and the following
values were determined:
Void ratio

k (cm/sec)

1.1

0.302 x 10-7

0.9

0.12 x 10-7

Estimate k for void ratio = 0.75


Answer:

0.302x107
0.120x107

(1.1) n

1
1
.
1
+

=
(0.9) n

1 + 0.9

n = 5.098

Dr. Manal A. Salem Soil Mechanics

16

Empirical Correlations for k


Example: A clayey soil was tested in the lab and the following
values were determined:
Void ratio

k (cm/sec)

1.1

0.302 x 10-7

0.9

0.12 x 10-7

Estimate k for void ratio = 0.75


Answer:

(1.1)5.098

0.302x107 = C
1 + 1.1

C = 0.390x107

(0.75)5.098
= 0.051x107 cm / sec
k = 0.390x10
1 + 0.75
7

Dr. Manal A. Salem Soil Mechanics

Typical Values of k
Soil Type

k (cm/sec)

Gravel

100 10-1

Coarse Sand

10-1 10-2

Fine Sand

10-2 10-3

Silty Sand

10-3 10-4

Silt

10-4 10-5

Clay

<10-6

Dr. Manal A. Salem Soil Mechanics

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