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Centrifugal techniques for measuring saturated hydraulic conductivity

June 1, 1991

Centrifugal force is an alternative to large pressure gradients for the measurement of low values of saturated hydraulic conductivity (Ksat). With a head of water above a porous medium in a centrifuge bucket, both constant-head and falling-head measurements are practical at forces up to at least 1800 times normal gravity. Darcy's law applied to the known centrifugal potential leads to simple formulas for Ksat that are analogous to those used in the standard gravity-driven constant- and falling-head methods. Both centrifugal methods were tested on several fine-textured samples of soil and ceramic with Ksat between about 10−10 and 10−9 m/s. The results were compared to falling-head gravity measurements. The comparison shows most measurements agreeing to within 20% for a given sample, much of the variation probably resulting from run-to-run changes in sample structure. The falling-head centrifuge method proved to be especially simple in design and operation and was more accurate than the constant-head method. With modified apparatus, Ksat measurements less than 10−10 m/s should be attainable.

Publication Year 1991
Title Centrifugal techniques for measuring saturated hydraulic conductivity
DOI 10.1029/91WR00367
Authors John R. Nimmo, Karen A. Mello
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Water Resources Research
Index ID 70185494
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Toxic Substances Hydrology Program