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Introduction
Why do we need to know about
permeability and flow through soils?
Permeability
Soil is considered as a porous medium and the
interconnected voids allow water to flow through it.
Water can flow
from points of high
energy to points of
low energy.
Permeability
Soil is considered as a porous medium and the
interconnected voids allow water to flow through it.
Water can flow from points of high energy to points of
low energy.
The permeability k is used to quantify this property.
Permeability is the ease with which a liquid can flow
through the pores of the soil
Ground Water
Ground Water Table
Hydrostatic condition when
there is no flow
Head
Head: Head refers to the energy per unit of weight.
According to the Bernoulli’s equation,
Total head = pressure head + velocity head + elevation head
where
h = total head
u = pressure
v = velocity
g = acceleration due to gravity
¸
w
= unit weight of water
Weight
Energy
Head =
Z
g
v u
h
w
+ + =
2
2
¸
Z
g
v u
h
w
+ + =
2
2
¸
Head
The elevation or potential head (Z) depends on
the chosen datum.
The velocity of flow through soils is generally
small (< 1cm/s) and we usually neglect the
velocity head.
Thus >>
negligible
Z
g
v u
h
w
+ + =
2
2
¸
Z
u
h
w
+ =
¸
P
z(P)
Datum
Definition of Head at a Point
(1)
Note
z is measured vertically up
from the datum
) (
) (
) ( P Z
P u
P h
w
+ =
¸
1. Calculation of head at P
Choose datum at the top of the impermeable layer
2 m
5 m
X
P
Impermeable stratum
1 m
1m
Example: Static water table
P
z P
thus
h P m
w
w
( )
( )
=
= + =
1
4
1 5
w
u
w
( ) = 4¸
¸
¸
2. Calculation of head at X
Choose datum at the top of the impermeable layer
Example: Static water table
2 m
5 m
X
P
Impermeable stratum
1 m
1m
u X
z X
thus
h X m
w w
w
w
( )
( )
( )
=
=
= + =
¸
¸
¸
4
4 5
The heads at P and X are identical. This implies that the head
is constant throughout the region below a static water table.
2. Calculation of head at X
Choose datum at the top of the impermeable layer
Example: Static water table
2 m
5 m
X
P
Impermeable stratum
1 m
1m
u X
z X
thus
h X m
w w
w
w
( )
( )
( )
=
=
= + =
¸
¸
¸
4
4 5
2 m
5 m
X
P
Impermeable stratum
1 m
1m
3. Calculation of head at P
Choose datum at the water table
Example: Static water table
u P
z P
thus
h P m
w w
w
w
( )
( )
( )
=
= 
=  =
4
4
4
4 0
¸
¸
¸
2 m
5 m
X
P
Impermeable stratum
1 m
1m
4. Calculation of head at X
Choose datum at the water table
Example: Static water table
u X
z X
thus
h X m
w w
w
w
( )
( )
( )
=
= ÷
= ÷ =
1
1
1 0
¸
¸
¸
Again, the head at P and X is identical, but the value is different
2 m
5 m
X
P
Impermeable stratum
1 m
1m
4. Calculation of head at X
Choose datum at the water table
Example: Static water table
u X
z X
thus
h X m
w w
w
w
( )
( )
( )
=
= ÷
= ÷ =
1
1
1 0
¸
¸
¸
• The value of the head depends on the choice of datum
• Differences in head are required for flow (not pressure)
2 m
5 m
X
P
Impermeable stratum
1 m
1m
It can be helpful to consider
imaginary standpipes
placed in the soil at the
points where the head is
required
The head is the elevation of the water level in the
standpipe above the datum
Head
Darcy found that the flow (volume per unit time) was
• proportional to the head difference Ah
• proportional to the crosssectional area A
• inversely proportional to the length of sample AL
Water flow through soil
Ah
AL
Soil Sample
Darcy’s Law
q kA
h
L
=
A
A
(2a) Thus
where k is the coefficient of permeability or hydraulic
conductivity.
Equation (2a) may be written as
q = kAi
or
v = k i (2b)
where i = Ah/AL the hydraulic gradient
v = q/A the Darcy or superficial velocity
k the coefficient of permeability
q = quantity of water flowing through soil per
unit time => units (volume/time) نﺎﯾرﺳﻟا لدﻌﻣ
Q = quantity of flow through soil
ﺔﯾﻣﻛ ) مﺟﺣ ( قﻓدﺗﻣﻟا لﺋﺎﺳﻟا
Q = qAt => units (volume)
Coefficient of Permeability (k)
(Factors influence)
ﺔﯾذﺎﻔﻧﻟا لﻣﺎﻌﻣ ﻰﻠﻋ ةرﺛؤﻣﻟا لﻣاوﻌﻟا
k = (¸
w
/µ
w
) k(factors)
¸
w
= unit weight of water or fluid
µ
w
= viscosity of water or fluid (note temperature)
k(factors) Porosity (Void ratio)
Pore size (Particle size)
Tortuosity (particle shape)
Saturation
ﺔﻘﻠﻌﺗﻣ لﻣاوﻋ
ﺔﺑرﺗﻟﺎﺑ
ﺔﻘﻠﻌﺗﻣ لﻣاوﻋ
يذﻟا ﻊﺋﺎﻣﻟﺎﺑ
يرﺳﯾ
Manometers
(Peizometers)
L
inlet
outlet
H
constant head
device
device for flow
measurement
load
porous disk
Constant Head Permeameter
sample
Measurement of permeability
The volume discharge Q during a suitable time interval t
is collected.
The difference in head H over a length L is measured by
means of manometers.
Knowing the crosssectional area A, Darcy’s law gives
It can be seen that in a constant head permeameter::
(3)
Constant head permeameter
L
H
kA
t
Q
=
AHt
QL
k =
H
2
H
1
H
L
Falling Head Permeameter
Standpipe of
crosssectional
area a
Sample
of area A
porous disk
Measurement of permeability
H
2
H
1
H
L
Standpipe
of area
a
Sample
of area
A
Initially H=H
1
at time t=t
1
Finally H=H
2
at time t=t
2.
k
aL
A
n H H
t t
=
÷
l ( / )
1 2
2 1
Falling head permeameter
10
1
10
2
10
3
10
4
10
5
10
6
10
7
10
8
10
9
10
10
10
11
10
12
Gravels Sands Silts Homogeneous Clays
Fissured & Weathered Clays
Typical Permeability Ranges (metres/second)
Typical Coefficient of permeability values
Soils exhibit a wide range of permeabilities and while particle
size may vary by about 34 orders of magnitude permeability
may vary by about 10 orders of magnitude.
Coefficient of Permeability (k)
Order of Magnitude
k(cm/sec)
Clean Gravel 10
2
– 1
Clean Course to medium Sand 1 – 10
2
Fine Sand 10
2
– 10
4
Silt (Mixture of Sand & Silt) 10
4
– 10
6
Clay 10
6
– 10
12
(Typical 10
7
)
Empirical relationships for k
• For a homogeneous soil, coefficient of permeability k
depends on the soil fabric or structural arrangement of
the soil grains.
• A number of empirical relationships have been proposed
linking k to void ratio and grain size for coarsegrained
soils:
Hazen (1930)
• where C = a constant that is generally varies between
0.5 and 1.5. For coarse and fine sand, C ~ 1.
• D10 = the effective particle size, in mm
• (for clean sands with less than 5% passing the No.200 sieve)
2
10
sec) / ( CD cm k =
Effect of Temperature on Permeability (k)
k is a function of viscosity and the unit weight of the
pore fluid,
µ
¸
w
k ·
The viscosity of fluid, such as water, varies with temperature.
Hence, k also changes with different temperatures.
It is conventional to express the value of k at a temperature
of 20 °C under the assumption that ¸w does not vary too
much with temperature,
C T
C 20
C T
C 20
k k
·


.

\

µ
µ
=
Effect of Temperature on Permeability (k)
Variation of (water)
C 20 C T
µ µ
C 20 C T
µ µ
C 20 C T
µ µ T (°C) T (°C)
15 1.135 23 0.931
16 1.106 24 0.910
17 1.077 25 0.889
18 1.051 26 0.869
19 1.025 27 0.850
20 1.000 28 0.832
21 0.976 29 0.814
22 0.953 30 0.797
Seepage Force
Seepage force per unit volume w
w
s
i
L
h
j ¸ =
¸ A
=
Stratified Flow
Stratified Flow
Stratified Flow
Stratified Flow