1
EFFECTS OF SEEPAGE
SEEPAGE AND TUNNELING (PIPING)
Seepage occurs when the water seeps through the tiny soil
pores and finds its way into some bigger cracks. This starts a
process of tunneling where a tiny crack becomes larger and
larger as the water starts moving through it and carrying the
surrounding soil particles away with it.
Eventually the crack widens to the point where the water comes
rushing through the levee and crumbles the entire structure.
SAFETY OF HYDRAULIC STRUCTURES
AGAINST PIPING
When piping, heaving or quicksand
occurs, the soil has no bearing capacity, hence
it can not support structures.
Piping or heaving originates in the soil
mass when hydraulic gradient i is greater
than or equal to the critical hydraulic
gradient, i
cr
,
w
cr
i
'
=
e
Gs
i
cr
+
=
1
1
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2
TERZAGHI (1922) conducted some model tests with a
single row of sheet piles as shown in Figure and found
that the failure due to heaving (or piping) takes place
within a distance of D/2 from the sheet piles (D is the
depth of penetration of the sheet pile).
In order to prevent failure, the weight (W) of
the soil prism in the zone must be greater
than the uplifting force due to seepage
3 > =
U
W
FS
Factor of Safety
against heaving:
Where:
W = submerged weight of soil in the heave zone
per unit length of sheet pile
U = uplifting fore caused by seepage on the same
volume of soil
H
T
D
D
2
H = Total head loss
h
2
1. Estimate the average pressure
head (h
1
) at point P along the
base (ab) of the soil prism of
unit thickness.
The variation of pressure over the
base is considered to be parabolic.
STEPS:
3
2
1
b a
h h
h
+
=
( )
a T a
h H h A =
( )
b T b
h H h A =
U
h
a
h
b
h
1
D
2. Determine the actual
seepage pressure head (h
s
)
to be dissipated through the
soil prism.
3. Estimate the uplifting force,
U
2 1
h h h
s
=
) 1 (
2
: where
D
A =
Surface area of the
base of soil prism
s w s w
h
D
h A U
2
= =
U
h
a
h
b
h
1
D
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3
The average hydraulic gradient
across the prism,
4. Calculate the submerged
weight of the soil prism.
D
h
i
s
av
=
( )
av w av w
i D Di
D
U
2
2
1
2
= =
'
2
1
2
D W =
U
h
a
h
b
h
1
D
5. Calculate the Factor of Safety:
( )
( )
s w
h
D
U
W
FS
2
1
'
2
1
2
= =
w s
h
D
FS
'
= or
w av
i
FS
'
=
av
cr
i
i
FS = or
TERZAGHIs Alternate Method
for Flow around a Sheet Pile
( )
2 1
'
H H C
D
FS
w o
=
(Das, 2014)
L
h
i
exit
A
=
Where: h = head loss between the last
two equipotential lines.
L = the length of the flow element
d
N
H
h = A
HARZA (1935) investigated the safety
of hydraulic structures against
piping. The factor of safety (FS)
against piping:
exit
cr
i
i
FS =
i
exit
is the maximum exit gradient which
can be determined from the flow net.
A factor of safety of 3 4 is considered adequate for the
safe performance of the structure.
e
G
i
s
w
cr
+
= =
1
1 '
Where:
Harza also presented
charts for the maximum
exit gradient of dams
constructed over deep
homogeneous deposits.
B
h
C i
exit
=
Example #1
The sheet pile arrangement shown in Figure is to be
examined for adequacy. Determine the factor of safety
against piping failure using a.)Terzaghis method b.)
Harzas method
Impermeable
e = 0.61
Gs = 2.67
sat
= 20 kN/m
3
k = 2.6 x 10
5
m/s
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4
PREVENTION OF PIPING
To increase the factor of safety against failure,
several methods were recommended:
1. Placing filter material over the danger zone.
2. Lengthening the flow lines, by driving the
sheet pile deeper or by installing sheet piles at
one or both ends of a concrete dams.
Filter
3. Lengthening the flow lines at concrete dams
by constructing upstream or downstream
concrete aprons.
EFFECT OF CAPILLARY RISE
Water surface exposed to the atmosphere is
under tension, called capillary tension.
d
h
c
1
\

=
100
Where:
h = height of the point under
consideration measured from the ground
table.
S = degree of saturation in percent
3. The pore water pressure due to capillary rise
varies linearly with depth, becoming zero at
the ground water table.
4. The capillary action has no effect on the
pore water pressure below the ground water
table.
Example #2
A soil profile is shown in Fig. Given H
1
= 1.83m, H
2
=
0.91m, H
3
= 1.83m. Plot the variation of total stress,
pore water pressure, and effective stress with depth.
H
1
H
2
H
3
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