Influence of soil particle shape on saturated hydraulic conductivity

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The aim of this paper is to define the correlation between the geometry of grains and saturated hydraulic conductivity of soils. The particle shape characteristics were described by the ζ0C index (Parylak, 2000), which expresses the variability of several shape properties, such as sphericity, angularity and roughness.

The analysis was performed on samples of four soils, which were characterised by the same grain size distribution and extremely different particle structure. The shape characteristics varied from ideally spherical, smooth grains (glass microbeads GM) to highly irregular and rough particles (fly ash FA).

For each soil, laboratory tests of saturated hydraulic conductivity (constant head test CHT and falling head test FHT) were performed. Additionally, an empirical analysis of effective pore diameter was conducted with use of the analytical models developed by Pavchich (Wolski, 1987) and Indraratna and Vafai (1997). The models were modified by introducing the ζ0C index.

Experiments have shown that saturated hydraulic conductivity depends on grains shape and surface roughness. This parameter decreases with the increase in the irregularity of soil particles. Moreover, it was proven that the ζ0C reflects the relationship between effective pore diameter and grain shape characteristics.

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