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## Principles of Geotechnical Engineering, SI, 9E Das/Sobhan

Chapter 8
Seepage

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## Principles of Geotechnical Engineering, SI, 9E Das/Sobhan

Learning Objectives

## • Derivation of Laplace’s equation of continuity and some

simple applications of the equation
• Procedure to construct flow nets and calculation of
seepage in isotropic and anisotropic soils
• Seepage through earth dams

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## Laplace’s Equation of Continuity

• The flow of water through
soil is not generally uniform
or only in one direction
• A derivation for Laplace’s
Equation can be performed
by considering the single-
row of sheet piles shown in
Figure 8.1

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## Laplace’s equation of continuity

Let vx, and vz, be the components of the discharge velocity in the
horizontal and vertical directions, respectively. The rate of flow of
water into the elemental block in the horizontal direction is equal to
vx dz dy, and in the vertical direction it is vz dx dy. The rates of
outflow from the block in the horizontal and vertical directions are,
respectively,

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Assuming that water is incompressible and that no volume change in the soil
Mass occurs, we know that the total rate of inflow should equal the total rate
of outflow. Thus,

## Laplace’s Equation of Continuity

Laplace’s Equation states:

𝜕2ℎ 𝜕2ℎ
𝑘𝑥 + 𝑘𝑧 =0
𝜕𝑥 2 𝜕𝑧 2

## where kx and kz are the hydraulic conductivities in the

horizontal and vertical directions, respectively

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## If the soil is isotropic with respect to the hydraulic conductivity-that is,

Kx=kz -the preceding continuity equation for two-dimensional flow simplifies
to

One–Dimensional flow

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Example

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Example

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Example

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Flow Nets
The continuity equation Eq. (8.5) in an isotropic medium represents
two orthogonal families of curves-that is, the flow lines and the
equipotential lines. A flow line is a line along which a water particle
will travel from upstream to the downstream side in the permeable
soil medium. An equipotential line is a line along which the potential
head at all points is equal. Thus, if piezometers are placed at
different points along an equipotential line, the water level will rise to
the same elevation in all of them. Figure 8.3a demonstrates the
definition of flow and equipotential lines for flow in the permeable soil
layer around the row of sheet piles shown in Figure 8.1 (for kx, =
ky,= k).

## A combination of a number of flow lines and equipotential

lines is called a flow net.

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## Principles of Geotechnical Engineering, SI, 9E Das/Sobhan

Flow Nets
• A flow line is a line which
traces a particle’s motion

• An equipotential line is a
line along which the

## • For an isotropic medium,

flow lines and
equipotential lines are
orthogonal

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Flow Nets

## • A combination of flow lines and equipotential lines forms

a flow net
• Flow nets are used for the calculation of groundwater
flow and the evaluation of heads in the soil medium

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## Principles of Geotechnical Engineering, SI, 9E Das/Sobhan

Flow Nets
• While constructing a flow net, keep
the boundary conditions in mind
• The following four boundary
conditions apply for the flow net in
Figure 8.2b:
• Condition 1. The upstream and
downstream surfaces of the
permeable layer are equipotential
lines
• Condition 2. Because ab and de are
equipotential lines, all the flow lines
intersect them at right angles
• Condition 3. The boundary of the
impervious layer is a flow line, and so
is the surface of the impervious sheet
pile
• Condition 4. The equipotential lines
intersect acd and fg at right angles
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## The drop in the piezometric level between adjacent flow

elements is the potential drop

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## Seepage Calculation from a Flow Net

If the number of flow channels in a flow net is equal to Nf,
the total rate of flow through all the channels per unit
length is
𝐻𝑁𝑓
𝑞=𝑘
𝑁𝑑
H is the head difference between the upstream and
downstream sides of the flow

## Nd is the number of potential drops

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## Seepage Calculation from a Flow Net

For rectangular flow elements with a constant width-to-length ratio:
𝑏
𝑛=
𝑙
The total flow is:
𝑁𝑓
𝑞 = 𝑘𝐻 𝑛
𝑁𝑑

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## Flow Nets in Anisotropic Soil

• Equipotential lines and flow lines in anisotropic soil are
not orthogonal

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## Flow Nets in Anisotropic Soil

• Flow lines are orthogonal in the transformed section
• The rate of seepage can be calculated from the
transformed section by:
𝐻𝑁𝑓
𝑞 = 𝑘𝑥 𝑘𝑧
𝑁𝑑

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## Mathematical Solution for Seepage

• The seepage for some simple
structures may be analyzed
mathematically

## • Figure 8.12 shows a

nondimensional plot for the
rate of seepage around a
single row of sheet piles

## • The depth of penetration of

the sheet pile is S, and the
thickness of the permeable soil
layer is T’

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## Mathematical Solution for Seepage

Figure 8.13 shows results for
seepage under a dam with a
sheet pile

## x is the distance of the sheet

pile from the midpoint of the
dam

b is half of B
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## Uplift Pressure under Hydraulic Structures

• The uplift pressure at the base of a structure can be
determined using flow nets
• The uplift pressure is found by:

## 𝑎 𝑙𝑒𝑓𝑡 𝑐𝑜𝑟𝑛𝑒𝑟 𝑜𝑓 𝑏𝑎𝑠𝑒 = 𝑃𝑟𝑒𝑠𝑠𝑢𝑟𝑒 ℎ𝑒𝑎𝑑 𝑎𝑡 𝑎 × (𝛾𝑤 )

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## Seepage through an Earth Dam on an

Impervious Base
The total rate of seepage
through the dam can be found
using the equation:
𝑞 = 𝑘𝐿 tanα sinα

the segment

## L is the length of the segment

connecting the top of the free
surface to the impervious base

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## Seepage through an Earth Dam on an

Impervious Base
• The length L must be calculated as:

𝑑 𝑑2 𝐻2
𝐿= − ( − )
𝑐𝑜𝑠𝛼 𝑐𝑜𝑠 2 𝛼 𝑠𝑖𝑛2 𝛼
d must be determined from the geometry of the dam,
and H is the horizontal distance from the starting point
of the free surface (d)

## • This is Schaffernak’s solution with Casagrande’s

correction
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## L. Casagrande’s Solution for Seepage

through an Earth Dam
𝑑
• Using and α, we can
𝐻
find m from Figure 8.16.
• m is used to find L by:
𝑚𝐻
𝐿=
𝑠𝑖𝑛𝛼
• The rate of seepage is:
𝑞 = 𝑘𝐿𝑠𝑖𝑛2 𝛼

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## Pavlovsky’s Solution for Seepage through an

Earth Dam

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Filter Design

## • Seepage water can carry fine soil particles into a coarse

material
• Over time, this process may clog the void spaces in the
coarser material
• A filter is a properly designed coarser material that is used
to avoid this risk

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Filter Design

## For proper selection of the filter

material, two conditions should
be considered:
1. The size of the voids in the
filter material should be small
enough to hold the larger
particles of the protected
material in place
2. The filter material should
have a high hydraulic
conductivity to prevent buildup
of large seepage forces and
hydrostatic pressures in the filter
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## Principles of Geotechnical Engineering, SI, 9E Das/Sobhan

Filter Design
For the designs of filters, the US Navy requires 5 conditions to be
met:
Condition 1: For avoiding the movement of the particles of the
protected soil:

## Where 𝐷15(𝐹) = diameter through which 15% of filter material will

pass and 𝐷85(𝑆) = diameter through which 85% of soil to be
protected will pass

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## Principles of Geotechnical Engineering, SI, 9E Das/Sobhan

Filter Design
Condition 2: For avoiding buildup of large seepage force in the
filter:
𝐷15(𝐹)
>4
𝐷15(𝑆)

## Condition 3: The filter material should not have grain sizes

greater than 76.2 mm. This is to avoid segregation of particles in
the filter

## Condition 4: To avoid internal movement of fines in the

filter, it should have no more than 5% passing a No. 200
sieve

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## Principles of Geotechnical Engineering, SI, 9E Das/Sobhan

Filter Design
Condition 5: When perforated pipes are used for collecting
seepage water, filters also are used around the pipes to protect
the fine-grained soil from being washed into the pipes

## To avoid the movement of the filter material into the drain-pipe

perforations, the following additional conditions should be met:

D85(F)
> 1.2 to 1.4
Slot width

D85(F)
> 1.0 to 1.2
Hole diameter

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accessible website, in whole or in part.

## Principles of Geotechnical Engineering, SI, 9E Das/Sobhan

Summary
• Laplace’s equation of continuity:
𝜕2ℎ 𝜕2ℎ
+ =0
𝜕𝑥 2 𝜕𝑧 2
• Flow nets are combinations of flow lines and
equipotential lines

## • Design criteria for filters were presented by the US Navy

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