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Permeameters are of two general types: fixed-wall and flexible-wall cells. A controversy has developed over which type of cell is best suited for measuring the hydraulic conductivity of relatively impermeable, fine-grained soils. The various types of permeameters are discussed and their relative advantages and disadvantages are listed. Differences in applied stress, boundary leakages, and degree of saturation are the major differences between cells. It is concluded that no one type of cell is best suited to all applications. Data show that the type of permeameter used has little effect for laboratory-compacted clay permeated with water but can have a major effect for clays permeated with concentrated organic chemicals. Fixed-wall cells are perhaps best suited to testing laboratory-compacted clays that will be subjected to little or no effective overburden pressure in the field. Flexible-wall cells are better suited to testing undisturbed samples of soil (to minimize boundary leakages) and testing soils that will be subjected to significant effective stress.
permeability, hydraulic conductivity, permeameter, clay, compacted clay, triaxial, triaxial cell, flexible-wall cell, fixed-wall cell, consolidation cell, compaction mold
Assistant professor of civil engineering, University of Texas, Austin, TX
Associate, K. W. Brown and Associates, College Station, TX
Geotechnical engineer, Geotechnical Engineers, Inc., Winchester, MA