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The permeability of a soil is one of its most fundamental and important properties. It enters into nearly all seepage, settlement, and stability problems confronting the soil engineer. The amount of leakage through and under dams, the rate at which a building settles, and the ate at which the strength of a deposit increases after it has been subjected to a consolidating pressure are typical of the many problems in which the permeability of a soil can be a critical factor. The importance of evaluating the permeability of a pervious soil has been long recognized and test techniques for measuring it have been well developed and are widely used. The permeability of fine-grained soils, however, has not received extensive study. Soils with permeabilities of less than 1 /t per sec are often considered “impervious” and are not subjected to permeability testing. Soil permeabilities less than 1 y. per sec are becoming increasingly important to soil technologists from both practical and theoretical considerations. More use is being made of “impervious” soil to line canals and reservoirs and to construct cores for earth dams. Research workers are studying the permeability of finegrained soils to learn more of the nature of particle surfaces and the thickness of adsorbed water (7). A look at some of the factors influencing the permeability of fine-grained soils, therefore, is timely.
Lambe, T. William
Associated Professor and Director of the Soil Stabilization Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass.