Phreatic Surface Location after Drawdown

by Arthur H. Dvinoff, (A.M.ASCE), First Lieutenant; U.S. Army Corps of Engrs., Lower Mississippi Valley Division, Vicksburg, MI,
Milton E. Harr, (M.ASCE), Prof. of Soil Mech.; Purdue Univ., Lafayette, IN,

Serial Information: Journal of the Soil Mechanics and Foundations Division, 1971, Vol. 97, Issue 1, Pg. 47-58

Document Type: Journal Paper


To determine the stability of an earth embankment following rapid drawdown, it is necessary to locate the phreatic surface. Using a finite difference technique, the partial differential equation governing unsteady flow in porous media has been solved for various conditions. Curves and equations are presented for locating the phreatic surface in the pervious shell of an embankment with a vertical impervious core, resting on an impervious foundation. The embankment may be constructed with any slope angle. The phreatic surface may be located following instantaneous drawdown, or during and after drawdown proceeding at a constant rate. Calculations using these curves and equations are compared with the results of viscous flow-model studies.

Subject Headings: Water table | Drawdown (hydrology) | Porous media flow | Curvature | Differential equations | Unsteady flow | Foundations | Slopes

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