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Unit 06 : Advanced Hydrogeology

Poroelasticity is a continuum theory for the analysis of
a porous media consisting of an elastic matrix
containing interconnected fluid-saturated pores.
In physical terms, the theory postulates that when a
porous material is subjected to stress, the resulting
matrix deformation leads to volumetric changes in the
Since the pores are fluid-filled, the presence of the
fluid not only acts as a stiffener of the material, but
also results in the flow of the pore fluid (diffusion)
between regions of higher and lower pore pressure.
If the fluid is viscous the behavior of the material
system becomes time dependent.
Biot in a series of classic papers spread over
a 20 year period (Biot, 1941a, 1955, 1956a,
1962; Biot and Willis, 1957) proposed the
phenomenological model for such a material
generally adopted today.
The application of the theory has generally
concerned soil consolidation (quasi-static)
and wave propagation (dynamic) problems in
Biot Diffusion-Deformation Model
The classical linear model of transient flow and deformation of a
homogeneous fully saturated elastic porous medium depends
on an appropriate coupling of the fluid pressure and solid stress.
The total stress consists of both the effective stress, given by
the strain of the structure, and the pore-pressure, arising from
the fluid.
The local storage of fluid mass results from increments in the
density of the fluid and the dilation of the structure.
The combinations of the fluid mass conservation with Darcys
law for laminar flow, and of the momentum balance equations
with Hookes law for elastic deformation, result in the Biot
diffusion-deformation model of poroelasticity.
Constitutive Equations
The poroelastic constitutive equations are simple
generalizations of linear elasticity whereby the fluid
pressure field is incorporated in a fashion entirely
analogous to the manner in which the temperature
field is incorporated in thermo-elasticity.
Two basic phenomena underlie poroelastic behavior:
solid-to-fluid coupling occurs when a change in applied
stress produces a change in fluid pressure or fluid mass;
fluid-to-solid coupling occurs when a change in fluid
pressure or fluid mass is responsible for a change in the
volume of the porous material.
Uncoupled Problem
The magnitude of the solid-to-fluid coupling depends on the
compressibility of the framework of the porous material, the
compressibility of the pores, the compressibility of the solid
grains, the compressibility of the pore fluid, and the porosity.
If only fluid-to-solid coupling were important, the flow field can
be solved independently of the stress field.
The stress field (and hence strain and displacement fields)
can be calculated as functions of position and time once the
flow field has been determined as a function of position and
This one-way coupling known as the uncoupled problem and
allows some groundwater flow models to successfully predict
Coupled Problem
When the time-dependent changes in stress feed
back significantly to the pore pressure, two-way
coupling is important, and is called the coupled
Applied stress changes in fluid-saturated porous
materials typically produce significant changes in pore
pressure, and this direction of coupling is significant.
For this reason, it may be necessary to consider the
loading effects of large piles of waste materials in
groundwater flow models employed in the mining
Effective Stress
Before proceeding to general poroelasticity, we will
review the simple case of 1-D consolidation.
The effective stress principle gives:
= + p
where is the total stress, is the effective stress
and p is the pore pressure
Under constant total stress conditions, a change in
pore pressure generates an equal and opposite
change in effective stress:
d = d+ dp = 0
d= -dp = -wgdh
Water Compressibility
For isothermal compressibility of water:
w = 1/Kw = -(1/Vw)Vw/p
where w is the compressibility of water, Kw is the bulk
modulus of compression of water, Vw is the volume of
water and p is the pore pressure.
Mass conservation requires:
wdVw + Vwdw = 0
Using the definition of compressibility:
dVw = -Vwdw/w = -Vw wdp
dVw is the volume change due to compression of
water as a result of a pore pressure increase dp.
Pore Compressibility
The bulk compressibility of a poroelastic material
under one dimensional compression is given by:
b = 1/Kb = -(1/Vb)Vb/ = -(1/Vp)Vp/ = p = 1/Hp
where Vb is the bulk volume and Vp is the pore
volume. Kb is the bulk modulus of compression and
Hp is a vertical bulk modulus of pore compression.
For incompressible grains: Vb = Vp
For or a total volume change dVb:
dVb = dVp = -pVbd = pVpdp
dVp is the pore volume change as a result of an
effective stress change -d = dp
Total Volume Change
The total volume change is:
dVp - dVw = pVbdp + wVwdp
The water volume Vw = nVb so the volume change is:
dVp - dVw = pVbdp + nwVbdp = Vb(p + nw)dp
From the expression for total head where z is a
h = z + p/wg or p = wgh - wgz
dp = wgdh
Note the implicit assumption in this conversion is that
w is not a function of pressure.
Hence: dVp - dVw = Vb(p + nw)wgdh
Total Stress Change
The effective stress principle for hydrostatic
conditions gives:
= + p
Consider an excess pore pressure p as a result of
an applied total stress increment
+ = + (p + p)
Flow occurs in order to dissipate the excess pore
pressure increment p and over the drainage period
the effective stress is increased from to +
such that:
+ = + + p
Conservation Statement
In a deforming poroelastic medium there are two conservation
statements. One for fluid mass conservation and one for solid
mass conservation. Restricting the discussion to the 1-D case:
For the fluid mass: -[nwvw]/z = [nw]/t
For the solid mass: -[(1-n)svs]/z = [(1-n)s]/t
where vw and vs are the average velocities with respect to a static
frame of reference.
The Darcy flux is defined relative to the solid matrix so:
qz = n(vw-vs)
Now we introduce a material derivative (not a partial derivative)
that follows the motion of the solid phase (ie any subsidence):
dn/dt = n/t + vs n/z
The total change in porosity with time includes components due to
pore compression within the reference volume and pore
displacement with respect to the reference volume.
Grain Incompressibility
Now we assume the grains are incompressible, so s is
constant and all derivatives of s are zero and:
For the solid mass: -s[(1-n)vs]/z = s(1-n)/t
-[(1-n)vs]/z = (1-n)/t
-(1-n)vs/z + vsn/t = -n/t
(1-n)vs/z = n/t + vsn/t
(1-n)vs/z = dn/dt
For the mass fluid flux, derived from Darcy flux:
wqz = nw(vw-vs)
-(wqz)/z = -(nwvw)/z + (nwvs)/z
-(wqz)/z = (nw)/t + vs(nw)/z + nwvs/z
-(wqz)/z - nwvs/z = (nw)/t + vs(nw)/z = d(nw)/dt
-(wqz)/z - nwvs/z = d(nw)/dt
Approximate Conservation Equation
The two derived equations are:
(1-n)vs/z = dn/dt
-(wqz)/z - nwvs/z = d(nw)/dt
From the first equation: vs/z = [1/(1-n)]dn/dt
Substituting in the second equation:
-(wqz)/z - w [n/(1-n)]dn/dt = d(nw)/dt
-(wqz)/z = w[n/(1-n)]dn/dt + wdn/dt + ndw/dt
-(1/w)(wqz)/z = [n/(1-n)]dn/dt + dn/dt + (n/w)dw/dt
-(1/w)(wqz)/z = [1/(1-n)]dn/dt + (n/w)dw/dt
If the volumetric strain of the solid matrix is small, then the total
derivatives can be replaced by the partial derivatives:
-(1/w)(wqz)/z = [1/(1-n)]n/t + (n/w)w/t
Assuming w is independent of z, this reduces to
-qz/z = [1/(1-n)]n/t + (n/w)w/t
Consolidation Equation
Conservation Equation:
-qz/z = [1/(1-n)]n/t + (n/w)w/t
where the first RHS term represents pore volume change and
the second term represents fluid volume change
Rewriting the pore compression/expansion term:
-qz/z =p(p/t - /t) + (n/w)w/t
where p is the excess pore pressure increment as a result of the
(vertical) total stress increment
Rewriting the fluid compression/expanision term:
-qz/z =p(p/t - /t) + nwp/t
-qz/z =p+ nw)p/t - p/t
This is a form of the 1-D consolidation equation in terms of the
pressure dependent variable.
Companion Strain Equation
1-D consolidation equation:
-qz/z =p+ nw)p/t - p/t
Rearranging again:
-qz/z =nwp/t p(/t - p/t)
-qz/z =nwp/t p( p)/t
-qz/z =nwp/t p/t
Recognizing the stress-strain relationship for pore
deformation, = /p where is the 1-D (vertical)
volumetric strain:
-qz/z =nwp/t /t
The is the companion equation to the 1-D consolidation
equation written in terms of strain.
More Familiar Forms
1-D consolidation equation:
-qz/z =p+ nw)p/t - p/t
1-D companion strain equation:
-qz/z =nwp/t /t
The equations become more familiar if we recognize:
qz = -Kzh/z = -(Kz/wg)p/z
1-D consolidation equation:
Kz2p/z2 =wgp+ nw)p/t - wgp/t
Kz2p/z2 =Ssp/t - wgp/t
Kz2h/z2 =Ssh/t - p/t
1-D companion strain equation:
Kz2p/z2 =n wgwp/t wg/t
Kz2h/z2 =nwp/t /t
General Poroelasticity
A more complete model assumes that all components of
the porous medium are compressible, the bulk volume
(b), the solid grains (s), the fluids (w), and the pores
(p = b - s).
The key concepts of Biots 1941 poroelastic theory, for
an isotropic fluid-filled porous medium, are contained in
just two linear constitutive equations, for the case of an
isotropic applied stress field .
In addition to , the other field quantities are the
volumetric strain = dV/V, where V is the bulk volume,
the increment of fluid content , and the fluid pressure p.
Rice and Cleary
Rice and Clearys 1976 reformulation of Biots
linear poroelastic constitutive equations has
been adopted widely for geophysical
Rice and Cleary chose constitutive
parameters that emphasized the drained
(constant pore pressure) and undrained (no
flow) limits of long- and short-time behavior,
Alternate Formulations
Rice and Cleary defined fluid mass content (mf ) to be the fluid
mass per unit reference volume.
The change in fluid mass content relative to the reference state,
mf = mf - mfo
is related to increment of fluid content by:
=mf /fo
where fo is the fluid density in the reference state.
Fluid mass content is a state property, whereas the increment of
fluid content must be viewed in the hydrogeologic sense as the
volume of fluid transported into or out of storage.
Jacob (1940) also defined storage in terms of fluid mass.
The great advantage of the original Biot formulation using fluid
increment as a primary variable is that it is dimensionless, like
strain, and the constitutive equations do not have to include a
density factor.
Biot Formulation
The volumetric strain dV/V is taken to be positive in expansion
and negative in contraction.
Stress is positive if tensile and negative if compressive.
Increment of fluid content is positive for fluid added to the
control volume and negative for fluid withdrawn from the control
Fluid pressure (pore pressure) p greater than atmospheric is
The constitutive equations simply express and as a linear
combination of and p:
= a11 + a12p (1)
= a21 + a22p (2)
Generic coefficients aij are used in equations (1) and (2) to
emphasize the simple form of the constitutive equations.
Linear Equations
The first constitutive equation is a statement of the
observation that changes in applied stress and pore
pressure produce a fractional volume change.
The second constitutive equation is a statement of
the observation that changes in applied stress and
pore pressure require fluid be added to or removed
from storage.
This second statement implies that applied stress
and/or pore pressure might be treated as fluid source
terms in groundwater flow equations.
Poroelastic Constants
Poroelastic constants are defined as ratios of field
variables while maintaining various constraints on the
elementary control volume.
The physical meaning of each coefficient in equations (1)
and (2) is found by taking the ratio of the change in a
dependent variable () relative to the change in an
independent variable (p), while holding the remaining
independent variable constant:
a11 = /|p=0 =1/K = b constant pore pressure
a12 = /p|=0 =1/H = p constant total stress
a21 = /|p=0 = 1/H = p constant pore pressure
a22 = /p |=0 = 1/R = S = p + nw constant total stress (3)
Drained Compressibilty b

The coefficient b =1/K is obtained by

measuring the volumetric strain due to
changes in applied stress while holding pore
pressure constant.
This state is called a drained condition.
Therefore, b is the compressibility of the
material measured under drained conditions,
and K is the drained bulk modulus.
Poroelastic Expansion Coefficient p

The coefficient 1/H is a property not

encountered in ordinary elasticity.
It describes how much the bulk volume
changes due to a pore pressure change while
holding the applied stress constant.
It is the pore compressibility, that is, the drained
bulk compressibility less the grain compression,
By analogy with thermal expansion, it is called
the poroelastic expansion coefficient.
Unconstrained Specific Storage Coefficient S

The coefficient 1/R is a specific storage coefficient

measured under conditions of constant applied stress;
it is the ratio of the change in the volume of water
added to storage per unit aquifer volume divided by
the change in pore pressure.
Here the specific storage coefficient at constant stress
is also called the unconstrained specific storage
coefficient and is designated S .
The specific storage (Ss) used in the familiar
groundwater flow and consolidation equations is given
by Ss = wgS
In soil mechanics Smay be better known as mw.
Biot Coefficients
The introduction of three coefficients :
drained compressibility
b = 1/K
poroelastic expansion coefficient
p = 1/H
unconstrained specific storage coefficient
S = 1/R
completely characterizes the poroelastic
response for isotropic applied stress. The Biot
formulation is both simple and elegant.
Coefficient Matrix
These three coefficients are the three independent
components of the symmetric 2 x 2 coefficient matrix
relating strain and fluid volume increment to stress and
pore pressure.
Using equation (3) in equations (1) and (2) yields:
b p p (4)
p Sp (5)
The drained compressibility (b) and the unconstrained
specific storage coefficient (S) are the diagonal
The poroelastic expansion coefficient (p) is the off-
diagonal matrix component.
Constrained Specific Storage Coefficient S

Biot also introduced the coefficient 1/M, which

is the specific storage coefficient at constant
It is called the constrained specific storage
coefficient and designated S.
It is convenient here define the constrained
specific storage Se as wgS in an exactly
similar manner to Ss.
S = p/|=1/M (6)
Skemptons Coefficient B
Skemptons coefficient (B) is defined to be the ratio of
the induced pore pressure to the change in applied
stress for undrained conditions - that is, no fluid is
allowed to move into or out of the control volume:
B = - p/|=0= R/H = p/S (7)
The negative sign is included in the definition
because the sign convention for stress means that an
increase in compressive stress inducing a pore
pressure increase implies a decrease in for the
undrained condition, when no fluid is exchanged with
the control volume.
Meaning of the B Coefficient
If compressive stress is applied suddenly to a small
volume of saturated porous material surrounded by an
impermeable boundary, the induced pore pressure is B
times the applied stress.
Skemptons coefficient must lie between zero and one
and is a measure of how the applied stress is
distributed between the skeletal framework and the
It tends toward one for saturated soils because the fluid
supports the load. It tends toward zero for gas-filled
pores in soils and for saturated consolidated rocks
because the framework supports the load.
Biot-Willis Coefficient
The ratio of the pore compressibility to the bulk
compressibility p / b is known as the Biot-Willis
coefficient or Skemptons A parameter and represents
the ratio of the volume of water squeezed out of a rock
to total volume change for deformation at constant fluid
= p / b = K / H = 1 - s / b (8)
Values of tend toward one for porous materials where
grain compressibilities are insignificant, such as
unconsolidated sediments, but tend towards much lower
values for consolidated rocks with more rigid skeletons
where pore compression is inhibited.
Specific Storage Coefficients

The (constrained) specific storage

coefficient at constant strain (S) is
smaller than the (unconstrained)
specific storage coefficient at constant
stress (S) due to the constraint that the
bulk volume remains constant.
Algebraic manipulation shows that:
S = S + p (9)
The following equations help to clarify the relationship
between S and S:
S = p + nw (10)
S = (1 - )p + nw (11)
Notice that S - S= p and that when approaches
one, as it does for many unconsolidated materials, the
constrained specific storage coefficient is simply nw.
When approaches zero, S approaches S, as is
the case for bedrock aquifers, rigid consolidated rocks
with low porosities.
Typical Values
Lithology b p S Ss B
-1 -1 -1 -1
Pa Pa Pa m Ratio Ratio
Clay 1.6E-08 1.6E-08 1.6E-08 1.6E-04 1.00 0.99
Mudstone 4.6E-10 4.4E-10 5.3E-10 5.2E-06 0.96 0.83
Sandstone 1.1E-10 7.8E-11 1.2E-10 1.2E-06 0.72 0.66
Limestone 3.0E-11 2.4E-11 9.4E-11 9.2E-07 0.80 0.25
Basalt 2.2E-11 5.1E-12 4.3E-11 4.3E-07 0.24 0.12

Data are derived from published information on the

compressibilities of various materials from a large number of
sources. Palciauskas and Domenico (1989) and Kmpel (1991)
are the key references but Domenico and Schwartz (1997) is
the most accessible.
Flow Equations
Palciauskas and Domenico (1989) presented the flow
equations for completely deformable porous media.
Equation (12) incorporates stress changes over time (the
second RHS term) as a mechanism to generate excess pore
p = [ K p] + B (12)
t Ss t
The companion equation (13) incorporates pore volume strain
(the second RHS term) as a mechanism to generate excess
pore pressures:
p = [ K p] + (13)
t Se St
Loading and Barometric Efficiencies

The equations can be used to predict both

drained and undrained response of water
levels to loading.
Equation (12) predicts that loading efficiency
(tidal efficiency or pore pressure coefficient)
p/ = B and barometric efficiency (1 B) for
undrained conditions.
Equation (13) predicts the fluid pressure
response to earth tides p/ = Sat
constant fluid mass.
Tidal Fluctuations
Earth Tides
Barometric Response
1-D Consolidation Theory
Biot showed at an early stage that Terzaghis one-dimensional
consolidation problem is a special case of his theory. One-
dimensional consolidation theory (Terzhagi consolidation) assumes:
(1) the stress increment generating the excess fluid pressure is
vertical and
(2) the solid components of the rock/soil matrix are incompressible.
The first assumption is implicit in the three-dimensional forms given
in equations (12) and (13) since no shear stress-strain components
are included.
The second assumption means that bulk volume changes are
exactly equal to pore volume changes, that is, is one. These are
reasonable approximations for many practical purposes but neither
assumption is strictly true.
Modelling Subsidence
Most of the calculations used to estimate subsidence are
based on Terzaghis simple one-dimensional analytical
model (Poland and Davis, 1969). Terzaghis principle of
effective stress coupled with Hubberts force potential and
Darcys Law provided the basis for one-dimensional
subsidence modelling (Gambolati et al, 1974).
p = [ K p] + Q (14)
t Ss
When the change in mean total stress is assumed to be
negligible within a ground-water basin, equation (12)
reduces to equation (14) and becomes identical to the
traditional groundwater flow equation used in many models.
San Joaquin Valley
Settlement vs Water Level Decline
Terzhagis Equation
For the one-dimensional case writing Cv = K/Ss ,
reveals Terzhagis familiar consolidation equation:
p = K p = K p = Cv p (15)
t Ss z2 mwwg z2 z2
This is perhaps the most famous equation
incorporating poroelastic effects but it conceals a very
large number of assumptions and simplifications
which make it inappropriate as a starting point for a
more rigorous analysis.
Las Vegas Subsidence Profile
Modelling Total Stress Changes
Most numerical models used to simulate groundwater
flow (equation 14) were derived with the assumption
that the total stress imposed on the aquifer remains
constant with time.
If the aquifer is subjected to time-varying total
stresses (loading), these models are inappropriate.
In such cases, a more general model that accounts
for aquifer deformation is required.
The effect of changes in total stress on an aquifer
system has been considered by many authors for a
variety of applications.
Total Stress Change Examples
Gibson (1958) discusses the impact of increasing clay thickness
on the consolidation of a clay unit and introduces a source term to
the equation describing the excess pore-water pressure increment
associated with the loading.
Abnormal pressure, both over-pressure and under-pressure, in
both aquifers and oil reservoirs, has been studied by Bredehoeft
and Hanshaw (1968), Neuzil (1993), and Neuzil (1995).
For these systems, changes in the total stress applied to the
system occur as a result of the slow geologic processes of
sedimentation or erosion.
Provost et al. (1998) considered the preconsolidation pressures
induced by changes in total stress due to glaciation in a long-term
model for a proposed nuclear waste repository.
Gardner et al. (1998) found that inclusion of pore pressures
derived from tidal loading of peat in salt marshes was necessary in
order to match observed piezometric responses.
Rate of Pore Pressure Dissipation
Equation (15) is readily solved for constant head
conditions (Terzhagi, 1943) and an analytical
expression can be derived to predict the time needed
for dissipation of a specified percentage of any
increment of excess pore-pressure by vertical
tp = d2SsTv = d2Tv (16)
K Cv
where tp is the time, d is the drainage distance, and
Tv is consolidation time factor.
Vertical and Radial Drainage
Setting Tv to a constant value corresponding to 90%
pore-pressure dissipation (average pore pressure over
the interval of thickness d ) gives:
t90 = 0.848 d 2 (17)
A similar analysis, for radial drainage, yields a similar
equation (after Carslaw and Jaeger, 1947) when the
consolidation time factor (Tr) for 90% dissipation is
somewhat lower:
t90 = 0.333 r 2 (18)
Constant Loading Rate
Abashi (1970) derived an addition useful analytic solution
for the vertical consolidation equation with a constant
rate of monotonic loading (rather than a constant
instantaneous load). The time factor Tc for 90%
dissipation is larger than for the instantaneous load case:
t90 = 0.946 d 2 (19)
The constant loading rate solution is not used as
commonly at the Terzhagi solution in practice, but is
valuable for the analysis of embankment construction
and pile building.