Evaluation of a Field Permeameter to Measure Saturated Hydraulic Conductivity of Base/Subgrade Materials


Timothy Clyne, Vaughan Voller, Bjorn Birgisson

June 2001

Report no. Mn/DOT 2001-19

This report presents the results of a cooperative study on the field use of a permeameter, built by researchers at the Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT) and the University of Minnesota, to estimate the saturated hydraulic conductivity of pavement base materials. Field measurements using the permeameter were taken on various highway construction projects, and researchers measured the saturated hydraulic conductivity of samples in the laboratory. Researchers also reviewed theories for converting a field-measured flow rate into a saturated hydraulic conductivity estimate. By numerical simulation and analysis of the field data, researchers determined an appropriate method for converting the Mn/DOT permeameter flow measurements into estimates of hydraulic conductivity. Variations between the field estimated and laboratory measured hydraulic conductivity are within one order of magnitude. Variations between the field estimate and numerical simulation, however, are much closer. The study found the Mn/DOT permeameter can be used to obtain a reliable estimate of the base hydraulic conductivity provided that the base layer is at least 15 cm (six inches) deep. When the base is to thin, permeameter readings are restricted to early infiltration times.

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