Soil compressibility in transient unsaturated seepage analyses

Timothy D. Stark, Navid H. Jafari, Aaron L. Leopold, Thomas L. Brandon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Most levee underseepage and uplift analyses are based on steady-state seepage and can yield conservative results. Although computations are simpler and steady-state seepage parameters are easier to determine and readily available, transient unsaturated seepage analyses are more representative of levee seepage conditions because boundary conditions acting on the levee or floodwall and saturation change with time, which induce pore-water pressure and seepage changes with time in the embankment and foundation strata. In addition, these boundary conditions, e.g., flood surge or storm event, are rapid such that steady-state conditions may not have time to develop in the embankment and some foundation materials. Transient seepage analyses using a floodwall case study indicate that as soil compressibility of the underseepage layer decreases, rapid landside pore-water pressures increase and can approach steady-state values. The transient results also indicate that uplift factors of safety during the flood event are about 22% higher than those at steady state. The effect of soil compressibility can delay or accelerate the onset of uplift water pressure increase from the initial steady-state conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)858-868
Number of pages11
JournalCanadian Geotechnical Journal
Issue number8
StatePublished - Jun 16 2014


  • Coefficient of consolidation
  • Coefficient of volume compressibility
  • Compressibility
  • Hydraulic conductivity
  • Hydraulic gradient
  • Levee
  • Slope stability
  • Transient seepage analysis
  • Uplift

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology


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