The flow of ground water, or any other fluid moving through rock (oil, brine) is
governed by an empirical law, one derived from experimental observation, not
from theory. This expression for ground water flow is known as Darcys Law.
Henry Darcy formulated this law in the 1850s and published his observations in
1856. Darcy was born in Dijon, France in 1803. To help Dijon receive a dependable
supply of water, Darcy designed a collection system for water from a large spring
more than 10km from Dijon. The water was piped to the city and was conveyed to
homes through a distribution system designed by Darcy.
Darcy became very knowledgeable about the flow of fluids in pipes. He also worked
with the flow of fluids through pipes filled with sand. The sand acted as a purification
Darcy designed the following experiment to describe flow of fluids through sand
This is an example of a pipe which can be used to demonstrate Darcys
Figure 4.12 Horizontal pipe filled with sand to demonstrate Darcys experiment.
(Darcys original equipment was actually vertically oriented.)
|- cylinder filled with sand.|
|- circular area = r2 = A.|
|- Water flows through the cylinder at a constant rate Q, maintained by keeping ha constant (constant head).|
|-Head loss is produced across the sand tube ()|
|(ha - hb) = friction|
|- Darcy noted that if he doubled Q, that the head loss also doubled,|
|this implies that their is a direct relationship between Q and the gradient.|
Q is proportional to the head loss divided by the flow length à the hydraulic
Q as well is directly proportional to the cross section area. If a tube of larger
diameter is used, then a larger Q must be maintained to keep the same head.
Darcy called this proportionality constant K, the permeability of the medium.
K depends on the size, shape, packing and orientation of the material in the
When these portions are combined, we are left with Darcys Law to describe
fluid flow through porous media.
|where = Hydraulic gradient|
The negative sign is used by convention to note that water is flowing from
highest to lowest hydraulic head.
Darcys Law states that fluid will flow through a porous media at a rate which
is proportional to the product of the cross sectional area through which flow
can occur, or the hydraulic gradient and the hydraulic conductivity.
Hydraulic Conductivity is a term which has replaced what Darcy called
If Darcy would have investigated fluids other than water, he would have
realized that the viscosity of the fluid influences Q.
Viscosity is the resistance of a fluid to flow.
For instance, molasses has a higher viscosity than water. Molasses is more
resistant to fluid flow.
Viscosity is indirectly proportional to Q.
If a more viscous fluid is used Darcys experiment, then Q decreases.
|µ = Dynamic viscosity|
Fetter calls µ the Dynamic Viscosity.
Not all water is pure. Much water contains dissolved solids or other material
dissolved in solution. This can be expressed as the specific weight g . The
Specific weight is the force exerted by gravity on a unit volume of the fluid.
Thus, the g is a function of r and g.
|g = r g where g = acceleration due to gravity.|
Q is directly proportional to g
Q then is a function of not only the medium but of the fluid used.
Intrinsic Permeability - representative of the properties of the porous media alone
|Ki = Cd2|
|Where: Ki = intrinsic permeability|
|C = shape factor||properties of Media|
|d = mean pore diameter|
K- Hydraulic Conductivity
|-property of media and fluid|
Ki = Darcys (unit)
à Term typically used in petroleum.
Aquifer - a geologic unit that can store and transmit water at rates fast enough
to supply reasonable amount to wells.
Most rock units near the earths surface have hydraulic conductivity sufficient
to make them aquifers.
An average house using 150 - 300 gallons of water a day requires a well
yielding > 2-3 gallons per minute.
Confining layer - a geologic unit having little to no intrinsic permeability < approximately
Leaky Confining layer - a confining layer that can store and transmit water.
ENV 302 - Lectures