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In the case of stratified or layered soil deposits each layer may be homogeneous and isotropic,
but when we consider flow through the entire deposit the average permeability of deposit will
vary with the direction of flow relative to the bedding plane.
Note: The average permeability parallel to the bedding plane will be greater than that
perpendicular to the bedding plane.
Average permeability parallel to the bedding planes:
Average permeability perpendicular to the bedding planes:


1. Particle Size
2. Properties of pore fluid
3. Void ratio
4. Soil fabric and soil stratification
5. Degree of saturation
6. Presence of foreign matter
7. Adsorbed water

Effect of particle size:

According to Allen Hazen (1911) the permeability varies approximately as the square of the
grain size.
The permeability of sands can be estimated using the formula
k= CD210 (C= constant 1-1.5, D10 =effective dia)
Smaller the grain-size the smaller the voids and thus the lower the permeability.
Effect of properties of pore fluid:
It is found that permeability is directly proportional to the unit weight of pore fluid and
inversely proportional to its viscosity.

k1 w1 2 k1 2

k 2 w 21 k 2 1

Effect of void ratio:

The general equation indicates that the coefficient of permeability varies as [e3/(1+e)]. For a
given soil, the greater the void ratio, the higher is the value of coefficient of permeability.
Effect of soil fabric and stratification:
The effect of structural arrangement of soil particles on permeability can be found by
determining permeability of undisturbed and disturbed soil samples. The effect of change in
structural arrangement of particles on permeability is more in the case of fine grained soils.
Stratified soil masses will have different average permeabilities in directions parallel and
perpendicular to their bedding planes. The average permeability parallel to bedding plane will
be greater than that perpendicular to bedding plane.
Effect of degree of saturation:
In partly saturated soils the entrapped air greatly reduces the permeability.
Permeability test is always conducted on a fully saturated soil specimen. The water used may
contain dissolved air. The use of air-free water is not warranted as the percolating water in the
field may contain dissolved gases.
Effect of presence of foreign matter:
Organic (foreign) matter, if present in soil mass, may be carried by flowing water towards
critical flow channels and may choke them up, causing reduction in permeability.
Effect of adsorbed water:
The adsorbed water, which is held by soil particles, is not free to move and therefore reduces
the effective pore space available for the flow of free water.