Mechanisms controlling the permeability of clays

Gholamreza Mesri, Roy E. Olson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Coefficients of permeability, calculated using Terzaghi's theory of one-dimensional consolidation, are reported for smectite, illite, and kaolinite, in water, methyl and ethyl alcohol, benzene, and carbontetrachloride. When the pore fluid was water the clays were homoionized to either the sodium or calcium form and the pore water electrolyte concentration was varied. The coefficients of permeability are evaluated in terms of both mechanical and physico-chemical variables. It appears that the coefficients of permeability are mainly influenced by mechanical effects, particularly the distribution of void sizes and the tortuosity of the channels. The coefficient of permeability is maximized if the flow channels consist of many small channels and a relatively few large ones, through which the main flow occurs. Physico-chemical variables exert great influence on the coefficient of permeability through their influence on dispersion or aggregation of the clay particles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)151-158
Number of pages8
JournalClays and Clay Minerals
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1971

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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