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Movement of Water Through


Soils
(Permeability)

Copyright2001

What is permeability?
A measure of how easily a fluid (e.g., water)
can pass through a porous medium (e.g.,
soils)

water

Loose soil Dense soil


- easy to flow - difficult to flow

SIVA - high permeability - low permeability

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Copyright2001

Bernoullis Equation
The energy of a fluid particle is
made of:
1. Kinetic energy fluid particle

- due to velocity
z
2. Pressure energy
- due to pressure
datum
3. Potential energy
- due to elevation (z) with respect to a datum

SIVA

Copyright2001

Bernoullis Equation
Expressing energy in unit of length:

fluid particle
Velocity head
+
z
Total head = Pressure head
+ datum
Elevation head

SIVA

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Copyright2001

Bernoullis Equation
For flow through soils, velocity (and thus
velocity head) is very small. Therefore,

0
fluid particle
Velocity head
+
z
Total head = Pressure head
+ datum
Elevation head

Total head = Pressure head + Elevation head


SIVA

Copyright2001

Some Notes
If flow is from A to B, total head is higher at
A than at B.

Energy is dissipated in
water
overcoming the soil
resistance and hence B
A
is the head loss.

SIVA

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Copyright2001

Some Notes
At any point within the flow regime:

Pressure head = pore water pressure/w

Elevation head = height above the selected datum

SIVA

Copyright2001

Some Notes
Hydraulic gradient (i) between A and B is
the total head loss per unit length.

TH A TH B
i= water
l AB
B
A

length AB, along the


stream line

SIVA

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Water flow through soil

Soil Sample

L
Darcy found that the flow (volume per unit time) was

proportional to the head difference h

proportional to the cross-sectional area A

inversely proportional to the length of sample L

Darcys Law

h
Thus Q = kA (1a)
L
where k is the coefficient of permeability or hydraulic
conductivity.

Equation (1a) may be written as


Q = k Ai
or v=ki (1b)

where i = h/L the hydraulic gradient


v = Q/A the Darcy or superficial velocity

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Notes on Darcy velocity
The Darcy velocity is an
average velocity because
it represents flow rate (Q) v
divided by the GROSS vactual = where n = porosity
cross-sectional area of n
soil. e
but n = ; where e = void ratio
GROSS area = area of 1+ e
solids + area of voids v(1 + e)
However water moves vactual =
only through the voids
e
The actual (interstitial)
velocity is given as:

Measurement of permeability (Lab)


inlet
constant head
device
load

h
Manometers
outlet

device for flow sample L


measurement
porous disk

Fig1. Constant Head Permeameter (Granular soils)

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Constant head permeameter
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 cross-sectional area A, Darcys law gives
Q h
= kA
t L
It can be seen that in a constant head permeameter:

QL
k=
Ath

Measurement of permeability (Lab)


Standpipe of
cross-sectional
area a

porous disk
H1
H
Sample H2
L of area A

Fig. 2 Falling Head Permeameter (Fine-grained & granular soils)

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Falling head permeameter
Standpipe
Analysis of area
Consider a time interval t a
H
The flow in the standpipe = a
t
H1
H
The flow in the sample = kA H
L
Sample H2
and thus L of area
dH H A
a = kA (4a)
dt L

Falling head permeameter


Solution Standpipe
of area
dH H
a = kA (4a) a
dt L

Equation (4a) has the solution:


H1
kA H
aln( H ) = t + cons tan t (4b)
L H2
Sample
L of area
Initially H=H1 at time t=t1 A
Finally H=H2 at time t=t2.

aL ln( H1 / H 2 )
k= (4c)
A t 2 t1

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Typical permeability values

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)

Soils exhibit a wide range of permeabilities and while particle


size may vary by about 3-4 orders of magnitude permeability
may vary by about 10 orders of magnitude.

Field Tests for Coefficient of


Permeability

Why field tests?


Field tests are more reliable than lab tests
due to the following reasons:
Tests are done on the undisturbed soil exactly
as it is in situ at the test location
Factors that might influence test results are
unchanged (e.g. soil stratification, overburden
stress, location of GWT etc)

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Field Methods
Several field methods for evaluating
permeability
1. Pumping
2. Borehole
3. Tracer tests (use of dye, salt or radioactive
tracers)

Pumping Method (Confined Aquifer)

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Pumping Method (Unconfined Aquifer)

Exercises

1. Water flows through the sand filter shown in Fig.


2. The cross-sectional area and length of the soil mass are 0.250
m2 and 2.00 m, respectively
3. The hydraulic head difference is 0.160 m.
4. The coefficient of permeability is 6.90 10-4 m/s
Determine the flow rate of water through the soil

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Solution(1))

q = kiA
h 0.160 m
i= = = 0.080
L 2.00 m
( ) ( )
q = 6.90 10 4 m/s (0.080) 0.250 m 2 = 1.38 10 5 m 3s -1

Exercise 2
In a soil test, it took 16.0 min for 1508
cm3 of water to flow through a sand
sample, the cross-sectional area of which
was 50.3 cm2. The void ratio of the soil
sample was 0.68.
1. Determine the Darcy velocity of water
through the soil
2. Determine the actual (interstitial) velocity

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Solution (2)
v = Volume/Time/Area
1508 cm3
= = 1.874 cm/min = 0.0321 cm/s
( )
(16.0 min ) 50.3 cm 2

v(1 + e )
vactual =
e
(0.0312)(1 + 0.68)
vactual = = 0.0771 cm/s
0.68

Exercise 3
 In a laboratory, a constant-
constant-head permeability test was
conducted on a brown sand with a trace of mica. The
following data were obtained
1. Quantity of water discharged during the test = 250 cm3
2. Length of specimen between manometer outlets = 11.43
cm
3. Time required for given quantity of water to be
discharged = 65.0 s
4. Head difference between manometer levels = 5.5 cm
5. Temperature of water = 200C
6. Diameter of specimen = 10.16 cm
 Determine the coefficient of permeability

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Solution (3)

QL
k=
Ath
10.16 2
A= = 81.07 cm 2
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250 11.43
k = = 0.0986 cm/s
81.07 65 5.5

Exercise (4)
 In a laboratory, a falling-
falling-head permeability test was
conducted on a silty soil. The following data were
obtained
1. Length of specimen = 15.80 cm
2. Diameter of specimen = 10.16 cm
3. Cross-sectional area of burette = 1.83 cm2
Cross-
4. Hydraulic head at beginning of test (h1) = 120 cm
5. Hydraulic head at end of test (h2) = 110 cm
6. Time required for water level in burette to drop from h1 to
h2 = 20.0 min
7. Temperature of water = 200C
 Determine the coefficient of permeability

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Solution (4)
2.3aL h
k= log 1
At h2
10.16 2
A= = 81.07 cm 2
4

k =
(2.3)(1.83)(15.80) log 120.0
(81.07 )(1200) 110.0
k = 2.58 10 5 cm/s

Exercise 5
 A pumping test was performed in a well penetrating a
confined aquifer to evaluate the coefficient of
permeability of the soil in the aquifer. When equilibrium
flow was reached, the following data were obtained:
1. Equilibrium discharge of water from the well = 750 l/min
2. Water levels (h1 and h2) = 5 and 6 m at distances from
the well (r1 and r2) of 20 and 60 m respectively
3. Thickness of aquifer = 6 m
 Determine the coefficient of permeability of
the soil in the aquifer

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Solution (5)
r
q ln 1
k r2
2H (h2 h1 )

q = 750l/min = 0.0125 m 3 s 1

(0.0125) ln 60
k = 20 = 0.00036 m/s
(2)( )(6)(6 5)

Exercise 6
 For the same conditions as for exercise 5,
except that the well is located in an
unconfined aquifer, determine the coefficient
of permeability of the soil in the aquifer

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Solution (6)
r
q ln 2
r1
k=
(
h22 h12 )
(0.0125) ln 60
k= 20 = 0.00397 m/s
(
6 2 52 )

Flow Through Anisotropic


Materials (Layered)

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Layered soil deposit

k=k1 d1

k=k2 d2

Horizontal flow in a layered soil deposit


h = h0 h = h 0 h

v = v1 d1

v = v2 d2

h h
For layer 1 v1 = k1 ; Q1 = k1 d1 (1a)
L L
and
h h
For layer 2 v2 = k2 ; Q2 = k2 d2 (1b)
L L

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Horizontal flow in a layered soil deposit
h
v = v1 d1 Q1 = k1 d1
L

v = v2 d2 h
Q2 = k2 d2
L
L
now the average velocity, v, can be determined as

Q1 + Q 2 h
v = = kH (2a)
d1 + d2 L
where
k1 d 1 + k 2 d 2
kH = (2b)
d1 + d2

Vertical flow in a layered soil deposit


h = h 0

v d1
h = h 0 h1

v d2
h = h 0
h 1
h 2
L

h1 v d1
For layer 1 v = k1 hence h1 = (3a)
d1 k1

h2 v d2
For layer 2 v = k2 hence h2 = (3b)
d2 k2

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Vertical flow in a layered soil deposit
The hydraulic gradient for the layered system is given by
h h1 + h 2
=
d d1 + d2

vd 1 vd 2
+
k1 k2
= (3c)
d1 + d2
Now applying Darcys law to the layered system gives
h
v = kV (3d)
d
d1 + d2
and hence kV = (3e)
d1 d2
+
k1 k2

Example: permeability in a layered soil deposit

k = k1 = 10-8m/s d1 = d0

k = k2 = 10-10m/s d2 = d0

k1 d 1 + k 2 d 2 108do + 1010 d0
kH = = = 5.05109 m/ sec
d1 + d2 (do + do)

d1 + d2 do + do
kV = = = 1.981010m/ s
d1 d2 do do
+ + 10
k1 k2 108 10

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