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Variable seepage meter efficiency in high-permeability settings

November 21, 2020

The efficiency of seepage meters, long considered a fixed property associated with the meter design, is not constant in highly permeable sediments. Instead, efficiency varies substantially with seepage bag fullness, duration of bag attachment, depth of meter insertion into the sediments, and seepage velocity. Tests conducted in a seepage test tank filled with isotropic sand with a hydraulic conductivity of about 60 m/d indicate that seepage meter efficiency varies widely and decreases unpredictably when the volume of the seepage bag is greater than about 65 to 70 percent full or less than about 15 to 20 percent full. Seepage generally decreases with duration of bag attachment even when operated in the mid-range of bag fullness. Stopping flow through the seepage meter during bag attachment or removal also results in a decrease in meter efficiency. Numerical modeling indicates efficiency is inversely related to hydraulic conductivity in highly permeable sediments. An efficiency close to 1 for a meter installed in sediment with a hydraulic conductivity of 1 m/d decreases to about 60 and then 10 percent when hydraulic conductivity is increased to 10 and 100 m/d, respectively. These large efficiency reductions apply only to high-permeability settings, such as wave- or tidally washed coarse sand or gravel, or fluvial settings with an actively mobile sand or gravel bed, where low resistance to flow through the porous media allows bypass flow around the seepage cylinder to readily occur. In more typical settings, much greater resistance to bypass flow suppresses small changes in meter resistance during inflation or deflation of seepage bags.

Publication Year 2021
Title Variable seepage meter efficiency in high-permeability settings
DOI 10.3390/w12113267
Authors Donald O. Rosenberry, Jose M Nieto-Lopez, Richard M. Webb, Sascha Muller
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Water
Index ID 70219218
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization WMA - Earth System Processes Division