Relating in situ hydraulic conductivity, particle size and relative density of superficial deposits in a heterogeneous catchment

MacDonald, A.M. ORCID:; Maurice, L.; Dobbs, M.R.; Reeves, H.J.; Auton, C.A.. 2012 Relating in situ hydraulic conductivity, particle size and relative density of superficial deposits in a heterogeneous catchment. Journal of Hydrology, 434-43. 130-141.

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Estimating the permeability of superficial deposits is fundamental to many aspects of catchment science, but can be problematic where insufficient in situ measurements are available from pumping tests in piezometers. Consequently, common practice is to estimate permeability from the material description or, where available, particlesize distribution using a formula such as Hazen. In this study, we examine the relationships between particlesize, relativedensity and hydraulicconductivity in superficial deposits in Morayshire, Northern Scotland: a heterogeneous environment typical of many catchments subject to previous glaciations. The superficial deposits comprise glaciofluvial sands and gravels, glacial tills and moraines, raised marine sediments, and blown sands. Thirty-eight sites were investigated: hydraulicconductivity measurements were made using repeated Guelph permeameter measurements, cone resistance was measured in situ with a Panda dynamic cone penetrometer; material descriptions were made in accordance with BS5930:1999; and disturbed samples were taken for particlesize analysis. Overall hydraulicconductivity (K) varied from 0.001 m/d to >40 m/d; glacial till had the lowest K (median 0.027 m/d) and glacial moraine the highest K (median 30 m/d). However, within each geological unit there was great variability in measured hydraulicconductivity values. Multiple linear regression of the data indicated that log d10 and relativedensity (indicated by cone resistance or BS5930:1999 soil state description) were independent predictors of log K and together gave a relationship with an R2 of 0.80. Material description using the largest fraction (e.g. sand or gravel) had little predictive power. Therefore, in heterogeneous catchments, the permeability of superficial deposits is most strongly related to the finest fraction (d10) and relativedensity of the material. In situ Guelph permeameter measurements at outcrops with good geological characterisation provide an easy and reliable method of determining the permeability of particular units of superficial deposits.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: BGS Programmes 2010 > Groundwater Science
ISSN: 0022-1694
Additional Keywords: GroundwaterBGS, Groundwater, Aquifer characterisation
Related URLs:
Date made live: 03 Apr 2012 13:43 +0 (UTC)

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