Seepage in the Unsaturated Zone: A Review

by David B. McWhorter, Colorado State Univ, Engineering, Research Cent, Fort Collins, CO, USA,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Seepage and Leakage from Dams and Impoundments


This paper briefly reviews the procedures whereby the seepage rate, depth of penetration of nonreactive pollutants, and the depth of the wetting front can be calculated when the assumption of one-dimensional flow is justified. A discussion of the effects of macroscale and microscale stratification on lateral spreading is provided. The permeability in each macroscale layer tends toward a constant value dictated by the seepage rate and such layers do not greatly enhance the tendency for lateral spreading. In microscale layers the pressure tends toward a common value, resulting in disparate permeabilities in each layer. This, in turn, causes the permeability tensor to exhibit directional properties that are enhanced relative to those measured at saturation.

Subject Headings: Seepage | Porous media flow | Fluid flow | One-dimensional flow | Pollutants | Flow measurement | Water pollution | Pore water

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