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Hydraulic Structures - Seepage Theories

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Blighs Creep Theory
According to Blighs theory, water creeps along the bottom contour of the structure. The length of
the path of water is called the length of creep and the loss of head is proportional to the length of
creep. If H
L
is the total head loss between upstream and downstream and L is the length of the creep,
then the loss of head per unit of creep length (i.e.
L
H L ) is called the hydraulic gradient. Blighs
theory makes no discrimination between horizontal and vertical creeps.
Consider a section as shown in the figure below. Let H be the difference of water levels between
upstream and downstream ends (no water is shown in the downstream end). Water starts percolating
at A and emerges at B.

Total creep length (L)
( ) ( )
1 1 2 2 3
1 2 1 2 3
2 2 2
2
d L d L d
L L d d d
= + + + +
= + + + +

Head loss per unit length (hydraulic gradient)

( )
1 2 3
2
H H
L b d d d
= =
+ + +
(1.1)

Head loss occurs on upstream cutoff
1
2
L
H
d
L
=
Hydraulic Structures - Seepage Theories
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Head loss occurs on intermediate cutoff
2
2
L
H
d
L
=
Head loss occurs on downstream cutoff
3
2
L
H
d
L
=
( )
1
1
2
2
C
H
H L d
L
d
H H
L
=
=

Hydraulic gradient drop at upstream cutoff
1
1
2
2
C
H H
d
H H H
L
H
d
L
=
| |
=
|
\ .
=

( )
( ) ( )
2 3
3 2
2 3
2
2
2
E
H
H L d
L
d L H H
H H L d
L L L L
= +
= + = +


Safety against Piping or Undermining
Safety against piping can be ensured by providing sufficient creep length given by
L C H = (1.2)

Hydraulic Structures - Seepage Theories
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where,
C =Blighs coefficient for the soil.
1 H L C =
No. Type of soil Value of C
Safe exit gradient
less than
1 Fine sand 15 1/15
2 Coarse grained sand 12 1/12
3 Sand mixed with boulders and gravel 5 to 9 1/5 to 1/9
4 Light sand and mud 8 1/8
Hydraulic gradient 1 H L C < for safety against piping.

Safety against Uplift Pressure
If the uplift head at any point is H
1
(meter of water) then uplift head has to be counterbalanced by
the weight of floor thickness.
Uplift pressure
1 w
H = ,
w
= Unit weight of water g = .
Downward pressure ( )
w c c w c
G t t = , where
c
G is the specific gravity of the floor material.
For equilibrium,
( )
( ) ( )
1
1
1
w w c c w c
c c c c c
H G t t
H G t t t G
=
= =



1
1
c
c
H
t
G
=

(1.3)

Hydraulic Structures - Seepage Theories
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Example
Find the hydraulic gradient and uplift pressure at a point 15 m from the upstream end of the floor in
the figure below.

Solution
Water percolates at point A and emerges at point B,
Total creep length 2 6 10 2 3 20 2 8 64m = + + + + =
Head of water on structure= 6 m
Hydraulic gradient
6 1
64 10.66
= =
According to Blighs theory, the structure would be safe on sand mixed with boulders
Creep length up to point C=
1
2 6 2 3 15 33 L m = + + =
( )
6
64 33 2.91
64
C
H m = =
1
2.91
2.076 of concrete
2.4 1
C w C
c
c w c w
H H
t
G G
m


= =

= =



Hydraulic Structures - Seepage Theories
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Lanes Weighted Creep Theory
From the analysis of 200 dams all over the world, Lanes concluded that horizontal creep is less
effective in reducing uplift than vertical creep. Therefore, he suggested a factor of 1/3 for horizontal
creep against 1 for the vertical creep.
For the structure in figure
( ) ( )
( )
1 1 2 2 3
1 2 1 2 3
1 2 3
1 1
2 2 2
3 3
1
2
3
2
3
Horizonals 3 Verticals
L d L d L d
L L d d d
b
d d d
L
= + + + +
= + + + +
= + + +
= +



L C H > (1.4)
Hydraulic gradient
H
L
should be less than
1
C

1 H
L C
<
Slopes steeper than 45 are taken as verticals.