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Field determination of vertical permeability to air in the unsaturated zone

January 1, 1978

The vertical permeability to air of layered materials in the unsaturated zone may be determined from air pressure data obtained at depth during a period when air pressure is changing at land surface. Such data may be obtained by monitoring barometric pressure with a microbarograph or surveying altimeter and simultaneously measuring down-hole pneumatic head differences in specially constructed piezometers. These data, coupled with air-filled porosity data from other sources, may be compared with the results of electric-analog or numerical solution of the one-dimensional diffusion equation to make a trial-and-error determination of the air permeability for each layer. The permeabilities to air may in turn be converted to equivalent hydraulic conductivity values if the materials are well drained, are permeable enough that the Klinkenberg effect is small, and are structurally unaffected by wetting. The method offers potential advantages over present methods to evaluate sites for artificial recharge by spreading; to evaluate ground-water pollution hazards from feedlots, sanitary landfills , and land irrigated with sewage effluent; and to evaluate sites for temporary storage of gas in the unsaturated zone. (Woodard-USGS)

Publication Year 1978
Title Field determination of vertical permeability to air in the unsaturated zone
DOI 10.3133/pp1051
Authors Edwin P. Weeks
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Professional Paper
Series Number 1051
Index ID pp1051
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse