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CE5101 Lecture 2
Darcy’s Law and Soil
Permeability
by
Prof Harry Tan
14 Aug 2013
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Outline
• Soil and Ground Water Conditions
• Unsaturated and Saturated Soils
• Balance Equations
• What is Darcy’s Law?
• Permeability
• Lab Measurement of k
• Field Measurement of k
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Soil and Ground Water
• Soil are products of weathering forming:
– Residual Soils (weathered in place)
– Transported Soils (displaced by wind or
water)
• Physical weathering produce soil particles
of gravels, sands and silts
• Chemical weathering produce clay
minerals – Kaolin, Illite and
Montmorillonite (bentonite)
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Ground water
• All soils are permeable (porous medium)
and water flow through interconnected
pores of void spaces
• Saturated soils when voids are completely
filled with ground water
• Unsaturated soils when voids are partially
filled with water and air in the form of
occluded bubbles held by tension capillary
stresses
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Ground Water Table
• Pressure of pore water is measured relative to
atmospheric pressure Pa (taken as zero pore
pressure)
• The water table (GWT) or phreatic surface is the
level at Pa or zero pore pressure
• Atmospheric pressure = 1 bar or 14.7 psi or 100
kPa)
• Below the WT, the soil is assumed to be fully
saturated (positive pore water pressure)
• Above the WT, the soil is unsaturated (negative
pore water pressure or pore water tension or
suction) where we have capillary water in
Vadose Zone
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Unsaturated/Saturated Soils
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Unsaturated/Saturated Soils
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Unsaturated/Saturated Soils
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Unsaturated/Saturated Soils
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Unsaturated/Saturated Soils
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Unsaturated/Saturated Soils
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Unsaturated/Saturated Soils
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Unsaturated/Saturated Soils
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Unsaturated/Saturated Soils
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Unsaturated/Saturated Soils
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Unsaturated/Saturated Soils
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Types of GWT
• Hydrostatic
• Seepage
• Perched WT
• Artesian WT
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Hydrostatic GWT
w
h u γ * 1 =
w
h u γ *
2
− =
GWT unsaturated
Saturated
soil
h1
h2
w
h u γ *
1
=
• Soil is saturated below GWT
• GWT is dependent on local
climate; balance of
precipitation, evaporation and
plant evapo-transpiration
• GWT is also affected by
construction activities,
especially excavations
Above WT, pore water held at negative pressure by
capillary tension; smaller pores give higher capillary rise;
in general degree of saturation decrease with height
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Perched GWT
• Occur locally, contained by soil of low
permeability above normal GWT
GWT
Clay lens
Perched WT
Sandy Soils
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Artesian GWT
GWT
Clayey Soils – Cap or
Aquiclude
Sandy Soils ( Confined Aquifer)
Artesian PWP
GWT
Inclined soil layer of high permeability is confined locally by overlying
clayey soil; the pressure in the artesian layer is governed by a higher WT
at a distant location where layer is unconfined
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Balance Equations
Fluid Mechanics
• Balance of Mass (Continuity)
• Balance of Momentum
• Balance of Energy (Heat)
• Most physical problems need the 1
st
two
balance equations
• If heat not important, 3
rd
equation is
ignored for flows in soils
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Continuity Equation
P v
x
x
1
x
1
+v
x
∆t
Vs
Vv
e
e
e
n
=
+
=
1
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x
z
y
A
H
G
F
E
D
C
B
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Darcy’s Law (Conservation of
momentum of fluid flow)
x
F
D
F
D
is drag force of soil
skeleton on flowing
water
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Permeability
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Permeability
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Permeability
Clay Silt Sand Gravel Cobble
Fine Medium Coarse Fine Medium Coarse Fine Medium Coarse
<0.002
mm

0.002

0.006

0.02

0.06

0.2

0.6

2

6

20

>60
<10
-9

m/s

10
-8


10
-7


10
-6


10
-5


10
-4


10
-3


10
-2


10
-1


1

>1 m/s

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Measurements of Permeability
• Laboratory Methods
– Constant head test
– Falling head test
– Hydraulic cell Test
• Field Methods
– Steady state field pumping tests
– Falling head bore hole tests
– Rapid test
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Constant head permeameter
Steady state test
Flow rate q=Q/t
Hydraulic gradient i=h/l
Darcy’s law: v=ki or q=vA = kiA
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Example 1 – Constant head test
o
C K
T
10 1.299
15 1.133
20 1.000
25 0.906
30 0.808
40 0.670
Temperature correction due to
effect on viscosity of water η,
which increase with higher
temperature
K k
w
η
γ
=
K=absolute permeability in m
2
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Falling head permeameter
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Example 2 – Falling head test
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Hydraulic cell permeameter – vertical k
Steady state is assumed when
inflow and outflow < 10% difference
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Example 3 – Hydraulic cell test
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Hydraulic cell permeameter – horizontal k
Steady state is assumed when
inflow and outflow < 10% difference
Theory – see pumping test
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Field Permeability Steady State Pumping Tests in
Confined Aquifer
Confined aquifer: i=dh/dr and A=2πrD
Pumping rate low enough to keep drawdown above top of acquifer
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Pumping Test in Confined Aquifer
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Example 4 – Pumping Test in Confined Aquifer
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Example 4 – Pumping Test in Confined Aquifer
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Field Permeability Steady State Pumping Tests in
Unconfined Aquifer
Confined aquifer: i=dh/dr and A=2πrD
Pumping rate low enough to keep drawdown above top of acquifer
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Field Permeability Steady State Pumping Tests in
Unconfined Aquifer
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Field Permeability Steady State Pumping Tests in
Unconfined Aquifer
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Example 5 Pumping Tests in Unconfined Aquifer
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Example 5 Pumping Tests in Unconfined Aquifer
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Borehole Tests
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Rapid Field Test
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