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METHOD BS 1377: 1990 - British Standard Methods of test for Soils

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STATEMENT for civil engineering purposes
5/5 Part 5, Clause 5 Determination of permeability by the constant-head method

1.0 Method Statement


This laboratory test is a measure of the soil capacity to allow the flow of water through the pore
spaces between solid particles. A hydraulic pressure gradient is applied in a sample of saturated soil
and the measured rate of flow is determined as the degree of permeability. The coefficient of
permeability is expressed as a velocity. This method is for non-cohesive soils having coefficients of
permeability ranging from 10-2 to 10-5 m/s, that is, medium to high permeability (good drainage
condition). Examples: clean sands, sand and gravel mixtures.
1.1 Test Requirements
Before testing, the requirement for specific applications shall be addressed as follows:
(a) Remoulded specimens to specified density or compactive effort.
(b) Moisture content and density for achieving remoulded specimens (eg. 95% of MDD).
1.2 Laboratory Equipment
1.2.1 A permeameter cell consisting of a cylindrical body of transparent acrylic plastics.
1.2.2 Two discs of wire gauze, one disc placed at each end of the permeameter cell.
1.2.3 A vertically adjustable reservoir tank for constant-head supply of water to permeameter cell.
1.2.4 A supply of clean de-aerated water to the constant-head reservoir.
1.2.5 A discharge reservoir with overflow to maintain a constant level.
1.2.6 A set of 3 manometer tubes of glass.
1.2.7 A set of valves to regulate flow lines and start of test.
1.2.8 Filter material of a suitable grading.
1.2.9 Measuring cylinders of 100 mL, 500 mL and1000 mL capacity.
1.2.10 Scoop and funnel for soil placement to permeameter cell.
1.2.11 A tamping rod, about 10mm dia., to reach to the bottom of the permeameter cell.
1.2.12 A calibrated thermometer reading to 0.1C.
1.2.13 A digital timer readable to 1 s.
1.2.14 A balance readable to 1 g.
1.2.15 A steel rule graduated to 0.5 mm.
1.2.16 Internal calipers.
1.3 Procedural Steps
1.3.1 Assemble the permeameter cell to base plate with bottom filter material layer and wire gauze disc.
1.3.2 Place and hand the sample into in 3 layers to the required density. The number of blows per layer is
by trial and error method.
1.3.2 Measure the compacted length of sample before topping up with wire gauze disc and top filter
material layer.
1.3.3 Complete the permeameter cell assembly with the top plate and tighten it down into position.
1.3.4 Connect the 3 tubings from the permeameter inlet glands to the 3 manometer tubes.
1.3.5 Saturate the sample by flow of water from the reservoir tank via bottom up so that there is no visible
air bubbles in the lines and manometer tubes.
1.3.6 Test the flow of water from the reservoir tank to the top of sample and check that there is also no
visible air bubbles in the system and the water levels in the manometer tubes are stable.
1.3.7 Place a measuring cylinder of suitable capacity under the outlet from the discharge reservoir and
simultaneously start the timer for measurement of downward flow of water through the sample.
1.3.8 Measure the quantity of water collected in the cylinder during a given interval of time. Alternatively
record the time required to fill the cylinder up to a given volume.
1.3.9 Record the levels of water in the 3 manometer tubes (uniform hydraulic gradient).
1.3.10 Record the temperature of the water in the discharge reservoir.
1.3.11 Repeat 2 or more times for consistent readings.

1.4 Calculation, Plotting and Reporting


1.4.1 Presentation of results is in accordance to BS1377: 1990, Part 5, Method 5.6 and 5.7

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