Mechanisms Controlling the Permeability of Clays

by Gholamreza Mesri, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL 61801,
Roy E. Olson, Department of Civil Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712,

Part of: From Soil Behavior Fundamentals to Innovations in Geotechnical Engineering: Honoring Roy E. Olson


Coefficients of permeability, calculated using Terzaghi's theory of one-dimensional consolidation, are reported for smectite, illite, and kaolinite, in water, methyl and ethyl alcohol, benzene, and carbontetrachloride. When the pore fluid was water the clays were homoionized to either the sodium or calcium form and the pore water electrolyte concentration was varied. The coefficients of permeability are evaluated in terms of both mechanical and physico-chemical variables. It appears that the coefficients of permeability are mainly influenced by mechanical effects, particularly the distribution of void sizes and the tortuosity of the channels. The coefficient of permeability is maximized if the flow channels consist of many small channels and a relatively few large ones, through which the main flow occurs. Physico-chemical variables exert great influence on the coefficient of permeability through their influence on dispersion or aggregation of the clay particles.

Copyright holder: Previously published in Clays and Clay Minerals, Clay Mineral Society, 19(3), 1971, 151-158

Subject Headings: Permeability (soil) | Clays | Soil water | Pore water | Consolidated soils | Channels (waterway) | Channel flow


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