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Study of the porosity and permeability

Updated 24/03/2005
by jmvallee
But what is a underground tank? a cistern ?
Concept porosity and permeability
Measuring porosity
Permeability measurement
The Earth and the atmosphere possess 1.385 109 km 3 of water quantity
which remained virtually unchanged since the Globe. However oceans
mobilize represents 97.5% of the world water supply, fresh water represents
only 2.5% of which 4/5 (2%) are located in the glaciers and ice. The rest
(0.5%) essentially consists of groundwater, lakes, rivers, soil moisture.
Groundwater accounts for nearly all (97-98%) of fresh water stored.
But what is a underground tank? a cistern ?
Actually rocks can hold liquid! To demonstrate you can do this simple
Place different rocks in an oven for several hours to dry. Then weigh them
Dive rocks in water for one hour minimum. Remove and remove excess
water by shaking. Weigh them again.
Let the rocks in the water for several days. Weigh them again.
- What can you conclude from your results?
In a rock, water occupies the spaces between the constituents in the form
of pores, crevices or cracks.

Concept porosity and permeability

Water can, depending on the rock type, enter: the porosity of the rock.
Water can also cross the rock completely: the permeability of the rock.

These two fundamentals are therefore:

?? - Porosity: corresponding to the relative volume of voids in the rock
(dimensionless number),
?? - Permeability: measure of the ability ?? d ?? a rock passing therethrough
by ?? water.
Comparing the porosity of two rocks:
Put a few drops of water on different rocks, and observe.
Derive the porosity of these rocks.
Comparison of the two permeability of rocks:
The permeability is the rate at which water circulates within the rock.
Very simply it is possible to compare the permeability of two sedimentary
rocks. This is put in two funnels same two volumes of rock and pour the
same volume of water, finally compare after a given time the volume of
water has passed through these rocks.

Measuring porosity
The total porosity (pt) is defined as follows:
Pt (%) = Volume of empty / total volume of the rock x 100
This total porosity can be divided into:
- pe (effective porosity): This is the amount severity water from a rock, or
amount of moving water.
- cr (holding capacity): the amount of water bound to the particles and /
or hair.

The total porosity is the sum of these two components; pt = pe (effective

porosity) + cr (holding capacity).
The smaller the particle is small in size, the greater the component "pe"
decreases and therefore the component "cr" increases.
porous rockspt (%) pe (%)
Sand and gravel 25-40 15-25
Fine sand
30-35 10 to 15
Clay 40-50 1 to 2
Chalk 10-40 1-5
Limestone (cracked)
1 to 10


Measuring the porosity of a rock: Pt (%) = volume voids / total volume of the
rock x 100
It is possible to determine the volume of water in a rock weighing the rock
before and after a prolonged stay in the water. The difference is measured in
grams converted volume 1g = 1 cm 3 , this represents the empty volumes.
It is possible to measure the total volume of rock by measuring the amount
of water displaced when immersed.
another method

Perform the assembly above. Open the tap. Water will thus by gravity ride in
the loose rock. When the water reaches the top of the ground, close the tap
and read the last volume of water that was used to fill all the empty spaces
of the soil. If you know the amount of loose rock, you can determine the
total porosity.

Permeability measurement
The groundwater flow is governed by Darcy's law experimentally
established in 1856 (definition of permeability).
A- Experimental :

We consider a section S of a cylindrical tube filled with loose rocks on a

height L in which is circulated water on a total height H (constant level
When the medium is saturated with water, were:
inlet flow rate output Qe = Qs = Q
Darcy equation is:
Q = kSH / L
So the flow rate Q (m 3 .s -1 ) and is proportional to S .DELTA.h and inversely
proportional to L.
k is the permeability coefficient = Darcy permeability (ms -1 )
S = surface (m)
.DELTA.h = pressure drop (m)

The permeability (K) is the hydraulic conductivity, hydraulic parameter is

the volume of water which percolates during the unit time through unit area
of a section and this at a temperature of 20 C.
K (m / s) = Q / S x I
Q = flow (m 3 / s), S = surface area (m 2 ) and I the hydraulic gradient.
Hydraulic gradient I = .DELTA.h / L
Simply, we can calculate k = LXV / (L + H) x V
Note: Darcy permeability is used only when one is interested in operating
free groundwater.

.DELTA.h = Pressure drop (m)

I = .DELTA.h / L
Darcy Q = kSH / L
For Aquifer length L and an assumed constant section S
Some results:
porous rocks
total porosity (%) permeability (m / day)
Sand and gravel 25-40 1000-10
Fine sand
30-35 100 to 0.1
Clay 40-50 <0.1
Chalk 10-40 100-1
Limestone (cracked)
1 to 10