Developing Methods for On-site Determination of Unsaturated and Saturated Hydraulic Conductivity above the Water Table

Persistent Link:
http://hdl.handle.net/10150/305430
Title:
Developing Methods for On-site Determination of Unsaturated and Saturated Hydraulic Conductivity above the Water Table
Author:
Neuman, S. P.; Wilson, L. G.
Affiliation:
Department of Hydrology and Water Resources; Water Resources Research Center
Publisher:
University of Arizona (Tucson, AZ)
Issue Date:
Mar-1980
Description:
Project Completion Report, OWRT Project No. A-07-ARIZ / Agreement No. 14-34-0001-7005, Project Dates: July 1, 1976 - September 30, 1978 / Acknowledgement: The work upon which this report is based was supported by funds provided by the State of Arizona and the United States Department of Interior, Office of Water Research and Technology, as authorized under the Water Resources Act of 1964.
URI:
http://hdl.handle.net/10150/305430
Abstract:
Constant head borehole infiltration tests are widely used for the in situ evaluation of saturated hydraulic conductivities of unsaturated soils above the water table. The formulae employed in analyzing the results of such tests disregard the fact that some of the infiltrating water may flow under unsaturated conditions. Instead, these formulae are based on various approximations of the classical free surface theory which treats the flow region as if it were fully saturated and enclosed within a distinct envelope, the so- called "free surface." A finite element model capable of solving free surface problems is used to examine the mathematical accuracy of the borehole infiltration formulae. The results show that in the hypothetical case where unsaturated flow does not exist, the approximate formulae are reasonably accurate within a practical range of borehole conditions. To see what happens under conditions closer to those actually encountered in the field, the effect of unsaturated flow on borehole infiltration is investigated by means of two different numerical models: A mixed explicit- implicit finite element model, and a mixed explicit-implicit integrated finite difference model. Both of these models give nearly identical results; however, the integrated finite difference model is considerably faster than the finite element model. The relatively low computational efficiency of the finite element scheme is attributed to the large number of operations required in order to reevaluate the conductivity (stiffness) matrix at each iteration in this highly nonlinear saturated -unsaturated flow problem. The saturated -unsaturated analysis demonstrates that the classical free surface approach provides a distorted picture of the flow pattern in the soil. Contrary to what one would expect on the basis of this theory, only a finite region of the soil in the immediate vicinity of the borehole is saturated, whereas a significant percentage of the flow takes place under unsaturated conditions. As a consequence of disregarding unsaturated flow, the available formulae may underestimate the saturated hydraulic conductivity of fine grained soils by a factor of two, three, or more. Our saturated - unsaturated analysis leads to an improved design of borehole infiltration tests and a more accurate method for interpreting the results of such tests. The analysis also shows how one can predict the steady state rate of infiltration as well as the saturated hydraulic conductivity from data collected during the early transient period of the test.
Language:
en_US

Full metadata record

DC FieldValue Language
dc.contributor.authorNeuman, S. P.en_US
dc.contributor.authorWilson, L. G.en_US
dc.date.accessioned2013-11-14T21:38:13Z-
dc.date.available2013-11-14T21:38:13Z-
dc.date.issued1980-03-
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10150/305430-
dc.descriptionProject Completion Report, OWRT Project No. A-07-ARIZ / Agreement No. 14-34-0001-7005, Project Dates: July 1, 1976 - September 30, 1978 / Acknowledgement: The work upon which this report is based was supported by funds provided by the State of Arizona and the United States Department of Interior, Office of Water Research and Technology, as authorized under the Water Resources Act of 1964.en_US
dc.description.abstractConstant head borehole infiltration tests are widely used for the in situ evaluation of saturated hydraulic conductivities of unsaturated soils above the water table. The formulae employed in analyzing the results of such tests disregard the fact that some of the infiltrating water may flow under unsaturated conditions. Instead, these formulae are based on various approximations of the classical free surface theory which treats the flow region as if it were fully saturated and enclosed within a distinct envelope, the so- called "free surface." A finite element model capable of solving free surface problems is used to examine the mathematical accuracy of the borehole infiltration formulae. The results show that in the hypothetical case where unsaturated flow does not exist, the approximate formulae are reasonably accurate within a practical range of borehole conditions. To see what happens under conditions closer to those actually encountered in the field, the effect of unsaturated flow on borehole infiltration is investigated by means of two different numerical models: A mixed explicit- implicit finite element model, and a mixed explicit-implicit integrated finite difference model. Both of these models give nearly identical results; however, the integrated finite difference model is considerably faster than the finite element model. The relatively low computational efficiency of the finite element scheme is attributed to the large number of operations required in order to reevaluate the conductivity (stiffness) matrix at each iteration in this highly nonlinear saturated -unsaturated flow problem. The saturated -unsaturated analysis demonstrates that the classical free surface approach provides a distorted picture of the flow pattern in the soil. Contrary to what one would expect on the basis of this theory, only a finite region of the soil in the immediate vicinity of the borehole is saturated, whereas a significant percentage of the flow takes place under unsaturated conditions. As a consequence of disregarding unsaturated flow, the available formulae may underestimate the saturated hydraulic conductivity of fine grained soils by a factor of two, three, or more. Our saturated - unsaturated analysis leads to an improved design of borehole infiltration tests and a more accurate method for interpreting the results of such tests. The analysis also shows how one can predict the steady state rate of infiltration as well as the saturated hydraulic conductivity from data collected during the early transient period of the test.en_US
dc.language.isoen_USen_US
dc.publisherUniversity of Arizona (Tucson, AZ)en_US
dc.sourceWater Resources Research Center. The University of Arizona.en_US
dc.titleDeveloping Methods for On-site Determination of Unsaturated and Saturated Hydraulic Conductivity above the Water Tableen_US
dc.contributor.departmentDepartment of Hydrology and Water Resourcesen_US
dc.contributor.departmentWater Resources Research Centeren_US
dc.description.collectioninformationThis item is part of the Water Resources Research Center collection. It was digitized from a physical copy provided by the Water Resources Research Center at The University of Arizona. For more information about items in this collection, please contact the Center, (520) 621-9591 or see http://wrrc.arizona.edu.en_US
All Items in UA Campus Repository are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.