Design of free flowing granular drains for groundwater containment applications
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Many geoenvironmental applications make use of granular drainage layers. Design guidelines for these drains recommend a granular soil that provides for filtration of the adjacent base soil. Filtration criteria have been developed through laboratory studies in which fine soils under a concentrated gradient of water are protected from erosion by a filter soil. The primary objective in these studies has been the geotechnical stability of earth-fill structures, while drainage was a secondary consideration. Granular drainage layers have therefore been constructed using fine sand. The subsequent migration of fine soil into these drains has resulted in significant loss in permeability. The main research objective was to develop design criteria for granular drains to be used for long term operation in environmental applications. The secondary objective was to investigate the relationships between grain size distribution of drain materials and clogging by fines. This was done through a laboratory study where changes in permeability were measured in granular soils infiltrated with fines. Lastly, the effect of salinity on fines deposition was also investigated. The hypothesis of the current study is that coarser granular drains minimize the impact of clogging and provides a better alternative to traditional drain designs for long term environmental applications. The laboratory study was performed with three granular drainage soils: a French Drain sand designed using the traditional filter design method, a coarser uniform sand, and a coarser graded sand with approximately 40% gravel sized particles. Three fine soils were used to infiltrate the drainage soils; however, their particle size distributions were not significantly different from one another. The results indicate that the permeability of all three drainage soils could be reduced by approximately one order of magnitude with continuous flow of a high concentration of fines (5 g/L). The permeabilities of the sands were reduced to a lesser extent with a lower concentration of fines. Permeabilities of the graded soils decreased more slowly with a lower concentration of fines, when considering pore volumes of flow. However, the rate of permeability decrease was ultimately influenced by the amount of fines delivered to the sample. A lower concentration of fines did not significantly slow the rate of permeability reduction in the uniform sand. All three sands retained a similar mass of fines (samples were split and fines content measured following each test). Salinity in the pore water did not significantly affect deposition, likely due to the fact that the fines contained a small amount of clay sized particles. When considering that all three drainage soils became clogged with fines during the tests, the coarse soils maintained a relatively high permeability due to the fact that their pre-test permeabilities were high. This information, along with the results from the literature review, has led to the development of recommended new design criteria for granular drains to be used for long-term geoenvironmental applications. Test results from an earlier study found that dispersive soils subject to high gradients can be successfully protected by a filter coarser than the coarse graded soil used in the current study. It therefore follows that a granular soil intended for groundwater collection applications can be made to be coarser than the current accepted practice. A proposed granular drain design band is presented in the current study.
DegreeMaster of Engineering (M.Eng.)
DepartmentCivil and Geological Engineering
ProgramCivil and Geological Engineering
SupervisorHaug, Moir D.
CommitteeBoulfiza, Mohamed; Sharma, Jitendrapal S.; Barbour, S. L.; Fonstad, Terrance A.
Copyright DateJanuary 2011