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Law

Dr. T. Brikowski

Fall 2012

ﬁle:darcy law.tex,v (1.22), printed October 15, 2012

Introduction

1

Introduction

• Motivation: hydrology generally driven by the need for

accurate predictions or answers, i.e. quantitative analysis

• this requires mathematical description of ﬂuid and

contaminant movement in the subsurface

• for now we’ll examine water movement, beginning with an

empirical (qualitative) relation: Darcy’s Law

2

Darcy’s Experiment

3

Darcy’s Observations

• Henry Darcy, studying public water supply development in

Dijon, France, 1856. Trying to improve sand ﬁlters for water

puriﬁcation

• apparatus measured water level at both ends and discharge

(rate of ﬂow

L

3

T

) through a vertical column ﬁlled with sand

(Fig. 1)

4

Darcy Experimental Apparatus

L

h

h

1

A

Cross−sectional area

Q

2

Figure 1: Simpliﬁed view of Darcy’s experimental apparatus. The central

shaded area is a square sand-ﬁlled tube, in contact with water reservoirs on

either side with water levels h

1

and h

2

.

5

Empirical Darcy Law

• Darcy found the following relationship

Q ∝

A(h

1

− h

2

)

L

or

Q = KA

h

1

− h

2

L

(1)

where K is a proportionality constant termed hydraulic

conductivity

L

T

6

Head

7

Head as Energy

• Head as a measure of energy (1) was used without much

further consideration until the 1940’s when M. King Hubbert

explored the quantitative meaning of head h, and ultimately

derived what he termed force potential Φ = g · h. He

demonstrated that head is a measure of the mechanical

energy of a packet of ﬂuid

– mechanical energy of a unit mass of ﬂuid taken to be the

sum of kinetic energy, gravitational potential energy and

ﬂuid pressure energy (work).

– Energy content found by computing work to get to current

state from a standard state (e.g. z = v = p = 0)

– energy units are

kg m

2

sec

2

= Nt · m = joule

8

Head Energy Components

• Kinetic Energy or “velocity work”. Energy required to

accelerate ﬂuid packet from velocity v

1

from velocity v

2

.

E

k

= m

_

v

2

v

1

vdv =

1

2

mv

2

(2a)

Remember that the integral sign is really just a fancy “sum”,

saying “add up all the tiny increments of change between

points 1 and 2”

• Gravitational work. Energy required to raise ﬂuid packet

9

from elevation z

1

to elevation z

2

.

W =

_

z

2

z

1

dz = mgz (2b)

• Pressure work. Energy required to raise ﬂuid packet pressure

(i.e. squeeze ﬂuid) from P

1

to P

2

.

P =

_

P

2

P

1

V dP = m

_

P

2

P

1

V

m

= m

_

P

2

P

1

1

ρ

=

1

ρ

_

P

2

P

1

dP =

P

ρ

(2c)

where (2c) assumes a unit mass of incompressible ﬂuid

10

Final Expression for Head

• the sum of (2a)–(2c) is the total mechanical energy for the

unit mass (i.e. m = 1)

E

tm

=

v

2

2

+ gz +

P

ρ

(3)

• in a real setting, energy is lost when ﬂow occurs Fetter [Sec.

4.2, 2001], so E

tm

= constant implies no ﬂow. No ﬂow

(Q = 0) in (1) implies constant head (h

1

= h

2

).

• Following the analysis of Hubbert [1940] deﬁne head h such

that h · g is the total energy of a ﬂuid packet. Then

hg =

v

2

2

+ gz +

P

ρ

(4a)

11

h =

v

2

2g

+ z +

P

ρg

(4b)

= z +

P

ρg

(4c)

where (4c) assumes v is small (true for ﬂow in porous

media).

• head is a combination of elevation (gravitational potential)

head and pressure head (where P = ρgh

p

, and h

p

is the

pressure head, or pressure from the column of water above

the point being considered)

• for a given head gradient (

∆h

∆x

) discharge ﬂux Q is

independent of path [Fig. 4.5, Fetter, 2001].

12

Head for Variable-Density Fluids

• (4c) indicates that head also depends on ﬂuid density. This

is only an issue for saline or hot ﬂuids. For constant density

(4c) can be written as

h = z + h

p

where h

p

is the height of water above the point of interest

[eq. 4.11, Fetter, 2001].

• This implies that head is constant vs. z (for every meter

change in z there is an equal but opposite change in h

p

).

• when ρ isn’t constant, “fresh-water” head (the head for an

equivalent-mass fresh water column, h

f

=

ρ

p

ρ

f

h

p

) should

13

be used for computing gradients, or in ﬂow models [Pottorﬀ

et al., 1987]

14

Rock Properties

15

Applicability of Darcy’s Law

• Darcy’s Law makes some assumptions, which can limit its

applicability

– Assumption: kinetic energy can be ignored. Limitation:

laminar ﬂow is required (i.e. Reynold’s number low, R ≤

10, viscous forces dominate)

– Assumption: average properties control discharge.

Limitation: (1) applicable only on macroscopic scale (for

areas ≥ 5 to 10 times the average pore cross section, Fig.

2)

– Assumption: ﬂuid properties are constant. Limitation:

(1) applicable only for constant temperature or salinity

settings, or if head h is converted to fresh-water equivalent

h

f

16

Scale Dependence of Rock Properties

φ, K, k

Average

Homogeneous Medium

P

o

r

o

s

i

t

y

,

P

e

r

m

e

a

b

i

l

i

t

y

,

o

r

C

o

n

d

u

c

t

i

v

i

t

y

Distance

H

e

t

e

r

o

g

e

n

e

o

u

s

M

e

d

i

u

m

Microscopic Macroscopic

Figure 2: Variation of rock properties with scale. Note heterogeneous

media have average properties that vary positively (shown) or negatively

(not shown) with distance. See also Bear [Fig. 1.3.2, 1972].

17

True Fluid Velocity

• (1) gives total discharge through the cross-sectional area A

• speciﬁc discharge (q traditionally, v in the text) is the ﬂux

per unit area q =

Q

A

• pore or seepage or average linear velocity (v traditionally,

V

x

in the text) is the velocity at which water actually moves

within the pores v =

K

φ

dh

dl

18

Hydraulic conductivity (K)

• the proportionality constant in (1) depends on the properties

of the ﬂuid, a fact that wasn’t recognized until Hubbert

[1956]

• Hubbert rederived Darcy’s Law from physical principles,

obtaining a form similar to the Navier-Stokes equation

1

.

From this he found the following form for K:

K =

kρg

µ

(5)

where ρ is the density of the ﬂuid and µ is its dynamic

viscosity (

M

LT

). k is the intrinsic permeability of the porous

medium Fetter [written as K

i

eqn. 3-19, 2001].

1

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Navier-stokes

19

• (5) demonstrates that hydraulic conductivity depends on the

properties of both the ﬂuid and the rock

20

Permeability (k)

• k (units L

2

) depends on the size and connectivity of the pore

space, and can be expressed as k = Cd

2

, where C is the

tortuosity of the medium (depends on grain size distribution,

packing, etc.; “unmeasurable”), and d is the mean grain

diameter (a proxy for the mean pore diameter). See also

Fetter [sec. 3.4.3, 2001].

• standard units are the darcy, (1 darcy = 9.87x10

−9

cm

2

),

which is deﬁned as the permeability that produces unit ﬂux

given unit viscosity, head gradient, and cross-sectional area

[Sec. 3.4.2, Fetter, 2001]

21

Measuring Rock Hydraulic Properties

• Porosity is measured in the lab with a porosimeter

– sample is dried and weighed

– then resaturate sample with water (or mercury), very

diﬃcult to do completely

– measure volume or mass of liquid absorbed by sample

– yields eﬀective porosity

• Permeability/Hydraulic Conductivity are measured in the lab

using permeameters (Fig. 3), which apply Darcy’s Law to

determine K

– Constant Head permeameter best used for high

conductivity, indurated samples (rocks)

22

– Falling Head permeameter best used for low-permeability

samples or soils

23

Permeameters

(a) Constant Head

Permeameter: K =

V L

Ath

(b) Falling Head

Permeameter:

K =

d

2

t

d

2

c

L

t

ln

`

h

o

h

´

Figure 3: Constant and Falling-Head Permeameters. a) best for consolidated, high-permeability samples; b) best for

unconsolidated and low-permeability samples. t is the duration of the experiment, V = Qt is the total volume discharged, and A

is the cross-sectional area of the apparatus. After Fetter [Fig. 3.16-3.17, 2001], see also Freeze and Cherry [1979], Todd [1959].

24

Applications of Darcy’s Law

• ﬁnd magnitude and direction of discharge through aquifer

• solve for head at heterogeneity boundary in composite (two-

material) aquifer

• ﬁnd total ﬂux through aquitard in a multi-layer system

25

Derivation of the Flow

Equation

26

The Flow Equation (Continuity Eqn.)

• Approach: use “control” volume, itemize ﬂow in and out,

and content of volume [sec. 4.7, Fetter, 2001], see Fig. 4

• Simpliﬁcations: assume steady-state, constant ﬂuid

properties

• Mass ﬂux

– must describe movement of mass across the sides of the

control volume, i.e. determine

mass

area·time

or

m

t·l

3

– known ﬂuid parameters: density ρ

_

m

l

3

_

, velocity q

_

l

t

_

(really speciﬁc discharge, or velocity averaged over a

cross-sectional area; see references such as Bear [1972],

27

Schlichting [1979], Slattery [1972] for discussion of volume-

averaging and REV’s)

– Then mass ﬂux = ρ · q

28

Representative Control Volume

q

x

q

x

x+

∆ ∆ ∆

∆ z

∆ y

∆ x

ρ

ρ

∆ x

(x,y,z)

(x+ x, y+ y, z+ z)

Figure 4: Mass ﬂuxes for control volume in uniform ﬂow ﬁeld.

29

Control Volume Mass Balance

• Content of control volume (storage)

– Steady-state ⇒ no change in content with time

– then sum of in and outﬂows must be 0 (otherwise content

would change)

• Sum of ﬂows for control volume in uniform ﬂow

– from above know that form will be:

_

rate of

mass in

_

−

_

rate of

mass out

_

= 0 (6)

30

– mass ﬂux in

_

rate of

mass in

_

= ρq

x

.¸¸.

mass ﬂux per unit area

· ∆y∆z

. ¸¸ .

area of cube face

(7)

– mass ﬂux out

∗ depends on q

out

, let q

out

= q

in

+ change

∗ express change as distance · (rate of change) and rate

of change as

∆q

x

∆x

∗ to be most accurate, determine rate of change over a

very small distance, i.e. take limit as ∆x →0

∗ that’s a derivative

lim

∆x→0

∆q

x

∆x

=

dq

dx

31

∗ since q can vary as a function of y and z as well, we write

it as a partial derivative, holding other variables constant

dq

dx

¸

¸

¸

y,z constant

=

∂q

∂x

∗ then in the form required for (6)

_

rate of

mass out

_

= ρ

_

q

x

+ ∆x

∂q

x

∂x

_

∆y∆z

– net ﬂux in x-direction: −ρ

∂q

x

∂x

∆x∆y∆z = −ρ

∂q

x

∂x

∆V

32

Continuity Equation

• sum of ﬂows for general case (y and z sums are same form

as for x)

−ρ∆V

_

∂q

x

∂x

+

∂q

y

∂y

+

∂q

z

∂z

_

= 0

_

∂q

x

∂x

+

∂q

y

∂y

+

∂q

z

∂z

_

= 0

∇· q = 0 (8)

• this is the divergence of the speciﬁc discharge, a measure of

the ﬂuids to diverge from or converge to the control volume

• assume this equation applies everywhere in problem domain,

33

i.e. that ﬂuid is everywhere, and ﬂuid/rock properties and

variables are continuous

• then rock and ﬂuid are overlapping continua

34

Flow Equation

• Approach: governing equations (8) and (1) contain similar

variables, can we simplify?

• Combined equation

– substituting Darcy’s Law (1) for q in (8):

∇· q = ∇·

(−K∇h)

= ∇

2

· h

=

_

∂

2

h

∂x

2

+

∂

2

h

∂y

2

+

∂

2

h

∂z

2

_

= 0

– This is our governing equation for groundwater ﬂow

35

• Assumptions: many were made above

– steady-state: no time variation

– continuum: ﬂuid and rock properties and variables

continuous everywhere in problem domain

– constant density: incompressible ﬂuid, no compositional

change, no temperature change

– no viscous/inertial eﬀects: low ﬂow velocities

36

Bibliography

37

J. Bear. Dynamics of Fluids in Porous Media. Elsevier, New York, NY, 1972.

C. W. Fetter. Applied Hydrogeology. Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ, 4th edition, 2001.

ISBN 0-13-088239-9.

R. A. Freeze and J. A. Cherry. Groundwater. Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliﬀs, NJ, 1979.

M. K. Hubbert. The theory of ground-water motion. J. Geol., 48:785–944, 1940.

M. K. Hubbert. Darcy’s law and the ﬁeld equations of the ﬂow of underground ﬂuids. AIME

Transact., 207:222–239, 1956.

E. J. Pottorﬀ, S. J. Erikson, and M. E. Campana. Hydrologic utility of borehole temperatures in

areas 19 and 20, pahute mesa, nevada test site. Report DRI-45060, DOE/NV/10384-19,

Desert Research Institute, Reno, NV, 1987.

H. Schlichting. Boundary-Layer Theory. McGraw-Hill, New York, 1979.

J. C. Slattery. Momentum, Energy, and Mass Transfer in Continua. McGraw-Hill, New York,

1972.

D. K. Todd. Ground Water Hydrology. J. Wiley and Sons, New York, 1959.

38

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