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Seepage of water through a soil mass occurs when there is a difference in total head between
two points
The total head h at any point in the soil mass in which flow is taking place is the algebraic
sum of pressure head, hw, and datum head or position head, Z.
= +z
1. The datum head is the elevation of the point with respect to a chosen datum line.
2. As the velocity of flow through soil deposit is usually very low, the velocity head (v2/2g)
being very small and is neglected.
3. The pressure head at any point is also known as peizometric head.

Seepage analysis involves determination of hydraulic head at various points in the soil mass
and rate of discharge through soil mass.

Pressure exerted by flowing water on the section of soil mass in the direction of flow.
It is caused by the force corresponding to energy transfer effected due to frictional drag
between water and soil particles.
The seepage pressure at any point in the soil mass is given by
ps = hw
Where h is the total head at that point
If Z is the length of flow over which head h is lost and i is the hydraulic gradient
ps Z w iZ w
The seepage force J over total cross sectional area A of flow in the soil mass is

J ps A iZ w A
Seepage force per unit volume is given by
J iZ w A
j i w

Thus seepage force per unit volume is equal to the product of hydraulic gradient i and unit
weight of water w.
In the case of vertical flow through soil mass the effective stress at a section will be increased
or decreased according as the flow is in the downward or upward direction.
The effective stress at depth Z is given by
=Z ps = Z iZw
+ve sign is used when flow occurs in the downward direction
-ve sign is used when it occurs in upward direction
Consideration of seepage pressure is of vital importance in the stability analysis of earth
structures subjected to seepage.
Seepage pressure is responsible for the phenomenon of quick sand.


In the case of upward flow of water through a soil mass, the seepage pressure acts in the upward
direction causing reduction in effective stress.
In the case of submerged soil mass, the upward pressure may become equal to downward
pressure due to submerged weight of soil, at a certain level.
When this happens in the case of a cohesionless soil, the soil at that level looses all its shear
strength as the effective stress becomes zero.
=c+ tan = 0 + 0(tan ) = 0

Because of this soil particles have the tendency to be carried away by flowing water. This
phenomenon of lifting of soil particles by flowing water is called quick sand or quick sand
Thus quick sand occurs when

= z-ps =0 => ps= z

Also ps =iz . Therefore we can write ps= z= icz
z 1
=> ic = = =
z 1+

Where ic denotes critical hydraulic gradient.

The critical hydraulic gradient is the hydraulic gradient at which quick sand condition occurs.


The pressure transmitted through grain to grain at the contact points through a soil mass is
termed as intergranular or effective stress.
It is known as effective stress since this pressure is responsible for the decrease in the void
ratio or increase in the frictional resistance of a soil mass.
If the pores of a soil mass are filled with water and if a pressure induced into the pore water,
tries to separate the grains, this pressure is termed as pore water pressure (u) or neutral stress.
The effect of this pressure is to increase the volume or decrease the frictional resistance of the
soil mass.

Variation of total stress, neutral stress and effective stress with depth for no flow
Variation of total stress, neutral stress and effective stress with depth for downward flow

Variation of total stress, neutral stress and effective stress with depth for upward flow