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Article

Mechanism of Steady and Unsteady Piping in Coastal

and Hydraulic Structures with a Sloped Face

V. S. Ozgur Kirca * and R. Evren Kilci

Department of Civil Engineering, Istanbul Technical University, 34467 Maslak, Istanbul, Turkey;

kilcievren@hotmail.com

* Correspondence: kircave@itu.edu.tr; Tel.: +90-212-2857-006

Received: 29 October 2018; Accepted: 24 November 2018; Published: 29 November 2018

Abstract: Coastal and hydraulic structures, such as revetments, embankments and levees—as well

as their underlying soil—may experience piping when exposed to outward pressure gradients.

The aim of the present study is twofold: (1) to derive the force-balance equation for soils with

a sloping surface exposed to a steady hydraulic gradient (relevant to hydraulic structures) and to seek

a criterion for piping, including the friction terms; (2) to study the case of unsteady hydraulic gradient

forcing (relevant to coastal structures) by means of a series of experiments. The derived force-balance

equation is compared with the available experimental and numerical model data from the literature

and extended to soils protected by a filter/armour layer or rip rap. The experiments conducted to

study the mechanism of piping under unsteady hydraulic gradients involved two types of loadings;

sudden and oscillatory. The results show that although the mechanism of steady and unsteady

piping has some similar aspects, the soil is generally more prone to piping in the unsteady hydraulic

loading compared to the steady case, attributed to the inertia terms. The hydraulic conductivity of

the soil becomes more distinctive for the unsteady piping case. Finally, remarks are made about

practical applications.

Keywords: piping; oscillatory hydraulic slope; unsteady pressure gradient; filter layer; revetment;

levee; sloped structures

1. Introduction

Coastal and hydraulic structures continuously experience static and dynamic fluid forces. One of

the most common and significant forms of hydraulic loadings for coastal and hydraulic structures is

the steady or unsteady pressure gradient (hydraulic slope) acting normal to the structure boundary

(if the structure is porous), as well as the foundation soil. Hydraulic structures with an earth-fill core

such as embankments, levees or dams are subjected to steady hydraulic slopes due to the water level

differences between their sides. When the hydraulic slope reaches above a critical value, water forces

its way through the soil such that a mixture of water and soil grains drains away in the form of

capillary streamtubes. This phenomenon, known as piping, causes the loss of fines from the soil and

eventually the failure of the structure. Many such failures of hydraulic structures are reported in the

literature. Richards and Reddy [1] compiled more than 250 cases of piping (or related) failures of

hydraulic structures.

Piping can be defined as a form of concentrated migration of fine granular material through very

small canals caused by pore water flow or seepage driven by a hydraulic slope [2]. Tomlinson and

Vaid [3] defines piping as the free movement of soil base particles through a granular filter, if such

a filter layer exists. As stated above, not only structures exposed to steady hydraulic slopes (i.e.,

water-retaining structures such as a cofferdam, dyke or dam) but also structures exposed to unsteady

(oscillatory, sudden, rapidly-increasing, etc.) pressure gradients due to wave or tide action may

Water 2018, 10, 1757 2 of 20

experience piping failure if proper filtering measures are not taken. Filter layer, which is responsible

for prevention of fine material to be lost out through the larger units of the outer (filter) layer, must be

designed in compliance with the gradation of the base material. The so-called “filter criteria” ensure

two things: (1) drainage of pore-water through pores of filter layer must be easy so that pressure can

be dissipated easily; (2) the gradation of the filter layer must be in proportion with the gradation of

the base material so that sufficient amount of friction is generated; and (3) the pore sizes of filter layer

must not be too large, not to let fine base material to pass through. The following relations institute

these criteria [2]:

d15 f

4< < 20–25 (1)

d15 b

d15 f

< 4–5 (2)

d85 b

d50 f

< 25 (3)

d50 b

d85 f

< 25 (4)

dvoid

Here d15 is the grain size which is 15% finer than the entire gradation. The subscript b represents

base material and subscript f represents the filter material. The given set of filter criteria in Equations

(1)–(4) is usually attributed to Terzaghi [4]. Although these criteria are very helpful for designing filter

layers, they may not always be sufficient to ensure a well-performing filter layer. De Graauw et al. [5]

performed an extensive set of experiments and parametrically tested the performance of different

filter layer configurations under different magnitudes of hydraulic slopes parallel and perpendicular

to filter layer-base material interface. They conducted the experiments for horizontally-laid filters

under steady and oscillatory pore-water pressure gradients (hydraulic slopes). They enlisted a set

of additional criteria for gradation, particle size and porosity of filter material, which has been very

insightful for those designing filter layers for hydraulic and coastal structures such as rubble-mound

structures, revetment slopes, rip-rap protection or scour protection of monopile foundations [6].

However, de Graauw et al. [5] did not set any specific criteria for the minimum necessary thickness of

filter layers. In fact, although the first studies of piping in hydraulic structures date back to 1910 [1],

very few studies so far directly dealt with the determination of the minimum thickness of the filter or

cover layers so that no piping occurs. The seminal study of Tomlinson and Vaid [3] investigated the

effect of filter thickness under constant confining pressure and showed that piping occurred under

a much lower critical hydraulic slope (pressure gradient) in the case of a thin filter. Ojha et al. [7]

carried out a theoretical analysis to suggest a criterion for piping that includes particle size, porosity

and hydraulic conductivity, without the presence of a granular filter. Shamy and Aydin [8] numerically

modelled the piping phenomenon under a river levee. Later on, Abdelhamid and Shamy [9] extended

this model to simulate the migration of base material (piping) through a granular filter. More recently,

Ko and Kang [10] experimentally tested the use of biopolymers for soil reinforcement against piping.

Piping against gravity (upward piping) is mostly the critical case for hydraulic structures, since the

seepage force acts to decrease the effective stresses. Sterpi [11], Jacobsen [12] and Fleshman and

Rice [13] conducted piping experiments under upward-directed pressure gradients without any filter

layer or confining pressure. Likewise, Tao and Tao [14] modelled upward piping under zero confining

pressure and no granular filter by means of a numerical model. Recently, Kirca et al. [15] carried out

an experimental research on the effect of mechanical characteristics of steel slag for resisting against

piping in a breakwater core under the action of oscillatory pressure gradients and waves. In these

studies, where particles were only free to move upwards, the critical hydraulic slope for piping was

found to be in the range of 0.6 to 3.

Wang et al. [16,17] conducted detailed experiments to study piping behaviour of block-in-matrix

type of soils (gravel and silty clay mixtures). Their setup constituted samples which underwent piping

Water 2018, 10, 1757 3 of 20

under downward directed pressure gradient. They showed that even under zero confining pressure,

the criticalthe

pressure, hydraulic slope forslope

critical hydraulic piping forwas

pipingat the

wasorder

at theof 60 toof140.

order 60 toThe

140.results of Tomlinson

The results of Tomlinsonand

Vaid [3] also

and Vaid [3] showed

also showed that that

for downward

for downward piping withwith

piping proper filtering

proper the critical

filtering gradient

the critical waswas

gradient in the in

range of 10ofto1070.

the range to 70.

As can be seen, base material is generally more resistant against piping in the case of downward

hydraulic slope compared to the case of upward directed hydraulic slope. slope. The reasons for this higher

resistance are; (1) the self-weight of soil column as well

resistance are; (1) the self-weight of soil column as well as the seepage as the seepage force acts to increase

force the effective

acts to increase the

stresses

effectiveand shearand

stresses resistance and enhances

shear resistance the bridging

and enhances [5]; and (2)

the bridging [5];a and

certain

(2) aamount

certainof base material

amount of base

infiltrates into the filter

material infiltrates into layer/exit pores andpores

the filter layer/exit formsand filtration

forms zones

filtration[3,18,19].

zones These can These

[3,18,19]. be termed

can be as

the secondary resistive processes against piping

termed as the secondary resistive processes against piping failure. failure.

When it comes to coastal structures, waves usually generate generate the most most significant

significant design

design loads.

loads.

Especially for sloped structures protected by an armour layer, such as coastal slopes protected by

revetments/cover

revetments/cover layers, layers,thethe continuous

continuous wave wave action

action sequence

sequence of of run-up and run-down potentially

invokes a number

number of of instabilities,

instabilities, oneoneof ofwhich

whichisispiping

piping[2]. [2].Figure

Figure11schematically

schematicallydescribes

describessuchsucha

acase

caseofofhydraulic

hydraulicloading.

loading.The Theunsteady

unsteadypressurepressuregradient,

gradient, whichwhich is is outward-directed

outward-directed during the

run-down stage of the wave, is known to generate critical critical conditions

conditions in in terms

terms of of piping

piping (Figure

(Figure 1b).

1b).

Piping has a chain effect since it triggers other modes of failure. Yet, piping mode of failure received

relatively less attention in the literature compared to other failure modes as far as coastal structures

are concerned. Sumer Sumer and and Nielsen

Nielsen [6] [6] and

and Nielsen

Nielsen et et al.

al. [20] studied the necessary filter layer

thickness for preventing or limiting the sinking of scour protection layers of monopile foundations

exposed to current

current and/or

and/orwave waveaction.

action.TheirTheirapproach

approach mostly

mostly involved

involved thethe horizontal

horizontal migration

migration of

of base

base material

material fromfrom underneath

underneath thethe filter,

filter, however

however vertical

vertical pressure

pressure gradients

gradients werewere

alsoalso seen

seen to

to be

be effective

effective in the

in the casecase of waves.

of waves. On theOn other

the otherhand, hand,

Sumer Sumer

et al.et[21,22]

al. [21,22] conducted

conducted experiments

experiments on sand on

sand

slopesslopes

exposed exposed to breaking

to breaking solitarysolitary and plunging

and plunging regular regular

waves,waves,in whichin which they measured

they measured the pore-the

pore-water

water pressure pressure

variationvariation

withinwithin

the base thesoil

base soil during

during the runupthe runup and rundown

and rundown stages ofstages

waveofaction.

wave

action. Their results

Their results showed showed

that thethatslope

the slope is exposed

is exposed to strong

to strong outwarddirected

outward directedpore-water

pore-water pressure

gradients (hydraulic slopes). These These gradients

gradients may may reach

reach as as high as (or very close to) the submerged

weight of sand sand which

which renders

renders thethe sand

sand veryvery mobile

mobile or or may

may eveneven drive

drive piping.

piping. Jensen et al. [23]

conducted laboratory measurementsmeasurements on an idealized rubble-mound breakwater model exposed to

regular

regular waves.

waves.They Theyinvestigated

investigated thetheoutward

outward pressure

pressuregradients

gradientsgenerated in thein

generated core

thematerial during

core material

the wave

during therundown

wave rundown stage and showed

stage and showedthat thesethat pressure gradients

these pressure reach reach

gradients to magnitudes that may

to magnitudes that

affect the overall

may affect instability

the overall of the structures.

instability Recently,Recently,

of the structures. Alcérreca-Huerta and Oumeraci

Alcérreca-Huerta and [24] conducted

Oumeraci [24]

aconducted

soil stability analysis

a soil beneath

stability a slope

analysis beneathprotected

a slope byprotected

a revetment by alayer under breaking

revetment layer under wave attack.

breaking

They

wave assessed

attack. They the total dislocation

assessed the totalof the soil together

dislocation of the with

soilthe filter/protection

together layer (total failure

with the filter/protection of

layer

the entire

(total soilofcolumn)

failure the entire and termed

soil column) the andphenomenon

termed the asphenomenon

momentary liquefaction.

as momentary liquefaction.

(a) (b)

Figure 1. The unsteady pressure gradient generated by wave action on a slope (only one layer of filter

is shown to keep the figure

figure simple):

simple): (a) Run-up

Run-up stage;

stage; (b)

(b) Run-down

Run-down stage

stage (vulnerable

(vulnerable to

to piping).

piping).

The purpose of the present study is to investigate the mechanism of piping under steady and

unsteady hydraulic gradients. First, it is aimed at setting a physically-consistent criterion for a given

soil with sloped face for determination of the critical hydraulic gradient against piping under steady

conditions. For this purpose, the force-balance on the soil is derived by formulating the disturbing

Water 2018, 10, 1757 4 of 20

The purpose of the present study is to investigate the mechanism of piping under steady

and unsteady hydraulic gradients. First, it is aimed at setting a physically-consistent criterion for

a given soil with sloped face for determination of the critical hydraulic gradient against piping

under

Water steady

2018, conditions.

10, x FOR PEER REVIEWFor this purpose, the force-balance on the soil is derived by formulating 4 of 20

the disturbing forces (hydraulic gradient/seepage force) and the resisting forces (self-weight and

forces (hydraulic

friction). gradient/seepage

The analysis force) andfor

is initially conducted the resisting forces

a sloped-face (self-weight

soil parcel with no andfilter

friction). The

layer and

analysis is initially

it is compared conducted

with the previousfor a formulations.

sloped-face soilThen,parcelitwith no filter layer

is extended to theand it is

case ofcompared with

base soil with

the previous formulations. Then, it is extended to the case of base soil with sloped

sloped face protected by a granular filter layer. The performance of the formulation is tested with the face protected by

aavailable

granularexperimental

filter layer. The performance of the formulation is tested with the available

and numerical data in the literature. Secondly, a series of experiments were experimental

and numerical

conducted data the

to study in the literature.ofSecondly,

mechanism piping undera series of experiments

unsteady hydraulicwere conducted

gradient, which to is astudy the

relevant

mechanism of piping under unsteady hydraulic gradient, which is a relevant

case especially for coastal structures. Two types of unsteady hydraulic loading were considered, case especially for

coastal structures. Two types of unsteady hydraulic loading were considered,

sudden and oscillatory. The results are interpreted for understanding the mechanism of piping under sudden and oscillatory.

The results

unsteady are interpreted

hydraulic gradient.for understanding

Finally, the resultstheare mechanism

discussed toofstate

piping under unsteady

the similarities hydraulic

and differences

gradient. Finally, the results are discussed to state the similarities and differences

between the steady and unsteady cases and remarks are made for practical application under the light between the steady and

unsteady casesfindings.

of the present and remarks are made for practical application under the light of the present findings.

The experiments werewere conducted

conducted in in the

theHydraulics

HydraulicsLaboratory

Laboratoryof ofIstanbul

IstanbulTechnical

TechnicalUniversity.

University.

A setup specially manufactured for large scale unsteady piping tests is used. The

specially manufactured for large scale unsteady piping tests is used. The piping setup, piping setup, shown

shown in

Figure 2, is composed of a fixed tank, a container tank for soil samples and a movable

in Figure 2, is composed of a fixed tank, a container tank for soil samples and a movable tank. These tank. These three

plexiglas cylindrical

three plexiglas tankstanks

cylindrical with with

30 cm 30diameter

cm diameterare connected

are connected withwithhard plastic

hard pipes

plastic as shown

pipes as shown in

Figure 2a. Two valves are placed on these connections as shown

in Figure 2a. Two valves are placed on these connections as shown in the figure. The in the figure. The length of the

container tank is 1 m and

and it

it is

is hinged

hinged to to aasupport

supportso sothat

thatits

itstilt

tiltangle,

angle, 𝛼,α, can be adjusted. The The movable

movable

is controlled

tank is controlled by

byaapneumatic

pneumaticpiston pistonand andcan

canbebe moved

moved upupand anddowndown along

along twotwo guide

guide railsrails

for

for simulating an oscillatory pressure gradient. The head difference between

simulating an oscillatory pressure gradient. The head difference between the fixed tank and the fixed tank and the

movable tank is shown as ∆H Δ𝐻 on on the

the figure.

figure.

(a) (b)

Figure 2. The experimental setup used for in the study: (a) Sketch; (b) Photo.

Underneath the

Underneath the soil

soil sample

sample in inthe

thecontainer

containertank,

tank,a a1010cmcmthick

thickcrushed

crushed stone

stone filter composed

filter composed of

stones

of with

stones sizesize

with 1–2 1–2

cm iscm placed for facilitating

is placed even distribution

for facilitating of the seepage

even distribution flow andflow

of the seepage the pressure

and the

pressure gradient. Between the stone filter and the soil sample a two-layer steel grid with 40openings

gradient. Between the stone filter and the soil sample a two-layer steel grid with 40 microns microns

is placed. is

openings Another

placed.steel grid with

Another steel100 microns

grid with 100opening

micronsis placed

opening at the bottom at

is placed of the

the container

bottom oftank the

(beneath the crushed stone filter).

container tank (beneath the crushed stone filter).

Five pressure

Five pressure transducers

transducers (Keller

(Keller 0–0.2

0–0.2 Bar

Bar piezoelectric

piezoelectric sensors)

sensors) were

were placed

placed at at the

the side

side of

of the

the

container tank as shown in Figure 2. The coordinates of the transducers were

container tank as shown in Figure 2. The coordinates of the transducers were 𝑧 = −2, 0, 2, 5 and z = − 2, 0, 2, 5 and 25 cm.

Note

25 cm.that

Notez isthat

measured downwards

𝑧 is measured from thefrom

downwards top level of the

the top soilof(as

level theinsoil

Figure

(as in3a). A sixth

Figure 3a).pressure

A sixth

pressure transducer is placed at the bottom of the fixed tank for measuring the change in the water

level when needed. The data is recorded with an NI-6210 data acquisition card with 100 Hz sampling

rate per channel. A camera was placed next to the container tank which kept recording the process

during the piping tests through the transparent walls of the container tank. The synchronization of

the camera and the pressure measurements were made by means of a LED light connected to a battery in

Water 2018, 10, 1757 5 of 20

transducer is placed at the bottom of the fixed tank for measuring the change in the water level when

needed. The data is recorded with an NI-6210 data acquisition card with 100 Hz sampling rate per

channel. A camera was placed next to the container tank which kept recording the process during the

piping tests through the transparent walls of the container tank. The synchronization of the camera

and the pressure measurements were made by means of a LED light connected to a battery in parallel

with the data acquisition card. When the battery is triggered the LED light blinked simultaneously

with a spike in one of the data channels. Three to five such blinks (or spikes) facilitated accurate

synchronization of the data with the video recordings.

Three different soil types were tested against piping during the experiments. The soil parameters

are given in Table 1. As seen, the soil characteristics correspond to silty fine sand, medium sand and

gravel. The hydraulic conductivity values of the soils were obtained via the falling head permeameter.

The angle of friction of the soils used were obtained by shear box tests for the first two type and angle

of repose was measured and taken as the friction angle for the third type (gravel).

Soil Type Porosity, n

q

Gravity, s Size, d50 (mm) Deviation, σg = dd84

16

(m/s) ϕ0 (◦ )

Silty Fine Sand 3.00 0.2 3.1 1.2 × 10−5 0.37 40

Medium Sand 2.65 0.7 2.5 2.8 × 10−4 0.39 38

Gravel 3.40 12 1.8 6.6 × 10−2 0.40 44

The conducted experiments, a total of 64, is listed in Table 2 below. The soil is placed in the

container tank with minimum disturbance, initially with a L = 30 cm thickness. During the soil

placement in the container tank for the first time, the dry material is weighed for measurement of the

porosity during and after the tests. Once the soil is placed, the material is very slowly saturated from

bottom to top, by gradually opening the valve at the exit of the fixed tank. The saturation process took

about two-three hours for the finest soil type. It was observed that the porosity of the placed soil did

not change more than ±0.015 after the saturation, or after the tests.

Once the soil is fully saturated, the valve at the exit of the fixed tank is closed and the water is

continued to be filled from top of the container tank via a by-pass entrance connected to the control

valve. When the water in the moving tank is roughly levelled with the water in the fixed tank, the valve

is gradually opened in order not to disturb the soil sample by causing premature piping. After waiting

sufficiently long time to make sure that the fixed and moving tanks have exactly the same water levels,

the valve at the exit of the container tank is closed.

As can be seen from Table 2, two kinds of tests are conducted: (1) sudden hydraulic loading tests;

and (2) oscillatory hydraulic loading tests.

For conducting the sudden hydraulic loading tests, first the inclination of the container tank

is adjusted. The head difference between the fixed tank and the movable tank, ∆H, is adjusted by

lowering the head of the moving tank. The camera and the data acquisition are started and the valve at

the exit of the container tank is suddenly opened. This sudden action causes a sharp upward-directed

pressure gradient to take place through the soil sample, simulating a sudden hydraulic loading such as

run-down phase of a wave on a slope. Observations as well as pressure measurements synchronized

with the video recordings are performed to see if piping took place or not.

Water 2018, 10, 1757 6 of 20

No. Soil Type Piping?

Loading α (◦ ) Head, ∆H (m) T (s)

101 Sudden 0 0.15 N/A No

102 Sudden 0 0.30 N/A No

103 Sudden 0 0.50 N/A Yes

104 Sudden 0 0.75 N/A Yes

105 Sudden 0 0.40 N/A Yes

201 Oscillatory 0 0.10 8 No

202 Oscillatory 0 0.15 8 No

Medium Sand

203 Oscillatory 0 0.20 8 No

204 Oscillatory 0 0.25 8 No

205 Oscillatory 0 0.30 8 No

206 Oscillatory 0 0.35 8 No

207 Oscillatory 0 0.40 8 No

208 Oscillatory 0 0.40 12 Yes

209 Oscillatory 0 0.50 12 Yes

901 Sudden 0 0.20 N/A No

902 Sudden 0 0.30 N/A No

903 Sudden 0 0.40 N/A Yes

904 Sudden 0 0.50 N/A Yes

905 Sudden 0 0.75 N/A Yes

1001 Oscillatory 0 0.15 8 No

1002 Oscillatory 0 0.20 8 No

1003 Oscillatory 0 0.30 10 Yes

1004 Oscillatory 0 0.40 10 Yes

1005 Oscillatory 0 0.50 10 Yes

1006 Oscillatory 0 0.65 12 Yes

1101 Sudden 18.5 0.20 N/A No

1102 Sudden 18.5 0.30 N/A Yes

1103 Sudden 18.5 0.40 N/A Yes

1104 Sudden 18.5 0.50 N/A Yes

1201 Silty Fine Sand Oscillatory 18.5 0.15 8 No

1202 Oscillatory 18.5 0.20 8 Yes

1203 Oscillatory 18.5 0.30 8 Yes

1204 Oscillatory 18.5 0.40 8 Yes

1205 Oscillatory 18.5 0.65 12 Yes

1301 Sudden 34.0 0.20 N/A Yes

1302 Sudden 34.0 0.30 N/A Yes

1303 Sudden 34.0 0.40 N/A Yes

1304 Sudden 34.0 0.50 N/A Yes

1305 Sudden 34.0 0.75 N/A Yes

1306 Sudden 34.0 1.00 N/A Yes

1401 Oscillatory 34.0 0.15 8 Yes

1402 Oscillatory 34.0 0.20 8 Yes

1403 Oscillatory 34.0 0.30 8 Yes

1404 Oscillatory 34.0 0.40 8 Yes

1405 Oscillatory 34.0 0.65 12 Yes

301 Sudden 0 0.20 N/A No

302 Sudden 0 0.30 N/A No

303 Sudden 0 0.40 N/A No

304 Sudden 0 0.50 N/A No

305 Sudden 0 0.75 N/A No

306 Sudden 0 1.00 N/A No

307 Sudden 0 2.00 N/A No

401 Oscillatory 0 0.25 8 No

402 Oscillatory 0 0.50 10 No

403 Gravel Oscillatory 0 0.65 12 No

501 Sudden 18.5 0.20 N/A No

502 Sudden 18.5 0.30 N/A No

503 Sudden 18.5 0.40 N/A No

504 Sudden 18.5 0.75 N/A No

505 Sudden 18.5 1.00 N/A No

506 Sudden 18.5 2.00 N/A No

601 Oscillatory 18.5 0.65 12 No

701 Sudden 34.0 2.00 N/A No

801 Oscillatory 34.0 0.65 12 No

Water 2018, 10, x FOR PEER REVIEW 7 of 20

601 Oscillatory 18.5 0.65 12 No

701 Sudden 34.0 2.00 N/A No

Water 2018, 10, 1757 7 of 20

801 Oscillatory 34.0 0.65 12 No

For

For conducting

conducting the the oscillatory

oscillatoryhydraulic

hydraulicloading

loadingtest,

test, first

first thethe valve

valve at the

at the exitexit of container

of the the container

tank

tank is opened when the fixed and movable tanks have equal water level. The

is opened when the fixed and movable tanks have equal water level. The ∆H distance is pre-designated Δ𝐻 distance is pre-

designated on the piston

on the pneumatic pneumatic

and thepiston andrails

guide thebefore

guide the

railsoscillatory

before thehydraulic

oscillatory hydraulic

loading test, loading

such thattest,

the

such

movable tank is sinusoidally displaced between −∆H/2 and +∆H/2 with regard to the level to

that the movable tank is sinusoidally displaced between −Δ𝐻/2 and +Δ𝐻/2 with regard of the

the

level

fixedof the fixed

tank. tank. The

The period period

of the of the sinusoidal

sinusoidal motion, T,motion, 𝑇, is also In

is also assigned. assigned.

order toInsimulate

order tothe simulate

storm

the storm waves on a slope, 𝑇 period is chosen in accord with the storm waves,

waves on a slope, T period is chosen in accord with the storm waves, such as T = 8, 10 and 12 s. This such as 𝑇 = 8, 10is

and 12 s. This is an important advantage of the present experimental setup

an important advantage of the present experimental setup compared to the wave flume experiments, compared to the wave

flume

because experiments, because

it is not possible it is not

to scale possible to of

the hydraulics scale the hydraulics

porous media by Froudeof porous media in

modelling bystandard

Froude

modelling in standard hydraulic scale tests in flumes, which would have geometric scales generally

hydraulic scale tests in flumes, which would have geometric scales generally less than 1:30, except

less than

large 1:30,

scale exceptwhich

facilities large scale facilities

may have which scales

geometric may havego up geometric scales go up 1:10 or more.

1:10 or more.

3.

3.Force-Balance

Force-BalanceEquation

Equationon

onaaSoil

SoilElement

Element

In

In this

this section,

section, thethe force-balance

force-balanceequation

equationfor foraa soil

soil parcel

parcel (soil

(soil element

element composed

composed of of sediment

sediment

grains

grains and

and water)

water) placed

placed flush

flush with

with thethe bed

bed level

level isis formulated

formulated under

under the

the effect

effect of

of an

an outward

outward

directed pressure gradient. The definition sketch of the problem is given in Figure

directed pressure gradient. The definition sketch of the problem is given in Figure 3. To generalize 3. To generalize

the

the formulation

formulationfor forsloping

slopingfaces,

faces,thethe

surface is taken

surface is takento make

to makean angle 𝛼 with

an angle the horizontal.

α with the horizontal. As

demonstrated

As demonstrated in Figure 3, the

in Figure 3, formulation

the formulation will will

be derived

be derivedfor the

for two cases:

the two (1) the

cases: (1) slope is notis

the slope

protected by a filter layer; and (2) the slope is protected by a filter layer with

not protected by a filter layer; and (2) the slope is protected by a filter layer with a thickness a thickness 𝐵 𝑓 . The

Bf .

former case was

The former case previously

was previously discussed in Kirca

discussed et al. et

in Kirca [15], whereas

al. [15], the latter

whereas was handled

the latter was handledin Kilci and

in Kilci

Kirca [25]. [25].

and Kirca

(a) (b)

Figure

Figure3.3.Definition

Definitionsketch

sketchofof

force-balance

force-balance during

duringpiping:

piping:(a) (a)

SoilSoil

parcel without

parcel a granular

without filter;filter;

a granular (b)

Soil parcel

(b) Soil underlying

parcel a granular

underlying filterfilter

a granular withwith

thickness 𝐵𝑓 . B f .

thickness

3.1.Force-Balance

3.1. Force-BalanceEquation

Equationfor

foraaSloped-Face

Sloped-Face Soil

Soil Parcel

Parcel Without

Without aa Filter

Filter Layer

Layer

With reference

With reference to to Figure

Figure 3a,

3a, the

the thickness

thickness of

of the

the soil

soil element is ∆z

element is 𝛥𝑧and

andthe

thecross-sectional

cross-sectionalareaareais

∆A, both shall be determined later. Considering the axisymmetric nature of the problem,

is 𝛥𝐴, both shall be determined later. Considering the axisymmetric nature of the problem, the shape the shape of

thethe

of soil parcel

soil parcelis taken as cylindrical.

is taken as cylindrical. z coordinate

TheThe is downwards

𝑧 coordinate from the

is downwards frombed level

the bedand theand

level surface

the

has a slope of α. Soil is submerged in water and fully saturated. The force-balance

surface has a slope of 𝛼. Soil is submerged in water and fully saturated. The force-balance equationequation shall be

derived

shall be derived alongW𝑧0 isaxis:

along z axis: the bed-normal componentcomponent

𝑊′ is the bed-normal of the submerged weight of soil,

of the submerged

∂p

Fu is of

weight thesoil,

piping

𝐹𝑢

(or seepage) force generated by an upward directed pressure gradient ∂z and Fs is the 𝜕𝑝 friction force

is the piping (or seepage) force generated by an upward directed pressure gradient and 𝐹𝑠 is the

between the soil element and the surrounding soil that resists against piping. For the 𝜕𝑧 piping failure to

friction force between the soil element and the surrounding soil that resists against piping. For the

take place, force-balance necessitates that:

piping failure to take place, force-balance necessitates that:

≥𝑊

Fu ≥

𝐹 W′0 +

+ 𝐹Fs (5)(5)

𝑢 𝑠

Water 2018, 10, 1757 8 of 20

The piping force can be calculated as the volume of the soil parcel multiplied by the

pressure gradient:

∂p

Fu = ∆A·∆z· (6)

∂z

The submerged weight of the soil along z shall be:

where s is the specific gravity of sediment grains, γ is the specific weight of water and n is the porosity

of the soil parcel. Substituting Equations (6) and (7) into Equation (5) and rearranging the terms,

one gets the following equation for critical hydraulic gradient for piping, icr , as:

∂( p/γ) Fs

icr = = (s − 1) (1 − n) cos α + (8)

∂z cr ∆A ∆z γ

Equation (8) was previously given by Kirca et al. [15]. When the friction force is zero, Equation (8)

will be reduced to:

∂( p/γ)

icr = = (s − 1) (1 − n) cos α (9)

∂z cr

This equation becomes the well-known piping criterion for horizontal surface, icr = (s − 1) (1 − n),

which was first introduced by Terzaghi and Peck [26].

The friction force, Fs , can be formulated as the shear stress in the soil, τs , integrated over the

contact surface area (lateral area) of the soil element with the surrounding soil:

Z ∆z

Fs = ∆C · τs dz (10)

0

The shear stress around the soil element is generated due to the normal effective stress

perpendicular to the contact surface of soil element with the surrounding soil. This term can be

formulated by use of the principle of shear resistance in cohesionless soil:

τs = tan ϕ0 σh 0 cos2 α + σv 0 sin2 α (11)

where ϕ0 is the friction angle of the soil, σv 0 and σh 0 are the vertical and horizontal effective stresses,

respectively. The term in brackets in Equation (11) is the effective stress normal to the lateral area

of soil parcel. Employing lateral coefficient of earth pressure, K, σh0 = Kσv 0 , Equation (11) can be

re-written as: h i

τs = tan ϕ0 (K − 1 ) cos2 α + 1 σv 0 (12)

Note that Equation (12) will simplify to vertical friction equation for a horizontal surface where

α = 0. The value of σv 0 within the surrounding soil around the soil parcel marked in Figure 3a shall

become the weight of overlying soil as a function of z;

γ(s − 1)(1 − n)

0

σ v out =z (13)

cos α

whereas within the soil parcel, σv 0 will be equal to the weight of the soil minus the pressure

gradient force.

γ(s − 1)(1 − n) ∂p

0

σ v in = z − (14)

cos α ∂z

As the pressure gradient increases towards the instant of piping, the effective stress within the

soil parcel (cf. Equation (13b)) is expected to vanish. Therefore, the friction force will be due to the

Water 2018, 10, 1757 9 of 20

effective stress within surrounding soil and the lateral earth pressure will act as an active case, K → Ka .

Substituting Equations (12) and (13a) into Equation (10) and integrating gives:

∆z2 0

h

2

i γ(s − 1)(1 − n)

Fs = ∆C tan ϕ (Ka − 1 ) cos α + 1 (15)

2 cos α

Finally, when Equation (15) is substituted into Equation (8), the critical hydraulic gradient for

piping can be found as:

!

∆C ∆z tan ϕ0 (Ka − 1 ) cos2 α + 1

icr = (s − 1) (1 − n) cos α + (16)

2 ∆A cos α

∆C ∆z

For a cylindrical soil element with height ∆z and diameter D, the term 2 ∆A will become 2∆z/D:

!

tan ϕ0 (Ka − 1 ) cos2 α + 1

icr = (s − 1) (1 − n) cos α + 2∆z/D (17)

cos α

It should be noted that Tao and Tao [14] derived a similar equation to Equation (17) for a flat bed,

where α = 0. However, there were three distinct differences in their formulation compared to the

present derivation. First, they had an extra term, 1 − n, as a multiplier of the tan ϕ0 in the friction force,

on the grounds that the friction is only between soil particles. However, this approach contradicts

with the assumptions of soil mechanics since the angle of friction readily covers the influence of

porosity [27]. Secondly, they took the lateral earth pressure coefficient in their equation as the “at rest”

value (K = 1 − sin ϕ0 ) instead of the active case. The third difference was another extra term they have

introduced as a multiplier to the right-hand side of Equation (17), named as the shape factor, taken

from Fair et al. [28]. However, Fair et al.’s [28] approach was simply setting a hydrodynamic equation

that was formulated through the seepage path in between the soil particles. Their equation was actually

aimed at formulating the relation between the filtration velocity and the hydraulic gradient (or head

loss). Thus, the shape factor cannot be directly used in a force-balance equation such as the present

case. The shape of the grains is, again, accounted for within the internal friction angle and the porosity.

By use of the Coulomb theory [27], the active lateral earth pressure coefficient can be written for

the present case as follows:

cos ϕ0

Ka = 2 (18)

sin(2ϕ0 ) sin ϕ0

q

1+ cos ϕ0

At this juncture, the dimensions of the cylindrical soil parcel that is subjected to piping, ∆z/D,

must be discussed. The effect of ∆z/D ratio on critical hydraulic gradient can be demonstrated by

the following numerical example. Assume a soil is given with an effective friction angle of ϕ0 = 40◦ ,

specific gravity of s = 2.65, porosity of n = 0.4 and face slope of tan α = 0.5. For such a soil

condition the variation of critical hydraulic gradient as a function of ∆z/D ratio is plotted in Figure 4.

When ∆z/D = 0, the friction force becomes zero. As can be seen from Figure 4, friction force becomes

more effective when the face slope (i.e., inclination) increases. This is somewhat expected since the

earth pressure acting on the lateral surfaces of the soil parcel in Figure 3a increases with the slope.

[(Ka −1 ) cos2 α+1]

This can readily be seen with the cos α multiplier in Equation (17), which increase with α.

Water 2018, 10, 1757 10 of 20

Water 2018, 10, x FOR PEER REVIEW 10 of 20

Figure 4. Variation

Figure 4. Variation of

of the critical hydraulic gradient for piping (𝑖

(icr as a function of ∆z/D

𝑐𝑟)) as Δ𝑧/𝐷 for

for different

different

values of face slopes, cf. Equation (17). The soil parameters are 0 ′= 40◦ , s = 2.65 and n = 0.4.

values of face slopes, cf. Equation (17). The soil parameters are 𝜑 = 40°, 𝑠 = 2.65 and 𝑛 = 0.4.

ϕ

3.2.

3.2. Force-Balance

Force-Balance Equation

Equation for

for aa Sloped-Face

Sloped-Face Soil

Soil Parcel

Parcel Protected

Protected by

by aaFilter

FilterLayer

Layer

When

When the

thesoil

soilparcel

parcelisisprotected

protectedbyby

a filter layer

a filter (Figure

layer 3b),

(Figure the filter

3b), layerlayer

thefilter will generate an extra

will generate an

overburden on theon soil surface as much as q0 =asB f𝑞cosγ=𝐵 s f𝛾−(𝑠1 −11) −(1

n f −. 𝑛However, we arrange the

extra overburden the soil surface as much 0 α 𝑓 cos 𝛼 𝑓 𝑓 ). However, we arrange

size of the

the size of soil parcel,

the soil D, such

parcel, that that

𝐷, such it fitsit the

fits size of the

the size of intergranular

the intergranular porepore

space of the

space of filter layer,

the filter Dp,

layer,

at the interface of contact as shown in Figure 3b. Apparently, this is the most critical

𝐷𝑝 , at the interface of contact as shown in Figure 3b. Apparently, this is the most critical case in terms case in terms of

piping.

of piping.AsAssuch,

such,overburden

overburden dueduetotothethe filter does

filter doesnot

notact

acton onthe

thesoil

soilparcel

parcelbutbutononthe

the neighbouring

neighbouring

soil. Then, the effective vertical stress immediately outside the soil

soil. Then, the effective vertical stress immediately outside the soil parcel shall be: parcel shall be:

0 ′

γ𝛾 h i

σ(𝜎 )𝑜𝑢𝑡==

v 𝑣out (s −−1)(

z[𝑧(𝑠 1 −−

1)(1 n)𝑛)

++B 𝐵

f 𝑓s(𝑠f 𝑓−−11) (1

1−− n𝑛𝑓f )] (19)

(19)

cosα 𝛼

cos

Since the

Since the maximum

maximum surface

surface area

area of

of soil

soil element

element exposed

exposed to to piping

piping force

force is

is dictated

dictated by

by the

the size

size

of the pores within the grains of the filter layer, the diameter of the soil parcel 𝐷 will

of the pores within the grains of the filter layer, the diameter of the soil parcel D will be set to the be set to the

intergranular pore

intergranular pore size

size of

of the

the filter

filter layer

layer D 𝐷p𝑝 in

inorder

orderto

tofacilitate

facilitate the

the force-balance

force-balance equation

equation against

against

piping. Equation (5) will also be valid for the case with the filter layer, provided

piping. Equation (5) will also be valid for the case with the filter layer, provided that Equationthat Equation (19) is

(19)

used instead of Equation (13) for effective stress. As a result, the critical hydraulic gradient

is used instead of Equation (13) for effective stress. As a result, the critical hydraulic gradient can be can be

found as

found as follows:

follows:

𝜑 ′ [(𝐾

tan tan ϕ0 [(𝑎

− 1 ) cos 2 𝛼 +

Ka −1 ) cos2 α+1]

1]

𝑖𝑐𝑟 = (𝑠 − 1) (1 − 𝑛) (cos 𝛼 + 2Δ𝑧/𝐷

icr = (s − 1) (1 − n) cos α + 2∆z/D 𝑝 )

p cos

cos α𝛼

′ 2 (20)

(20)

−1 [(𝐾 1]) cos 𝛼 + 1]

tan ϕ0tan

[(Ka𝜑 ) cos𝑎2 −

α+1

f −

+ 4B f +s4𝐵 1

(𝑠

𝑓 𝑓 − 1 −

1) n

(1 f − 𝑛 𝑓 ) D p cos α

𝐷𝑝 cos 𝛼

It

It is

is particularly

particularly difficult

difficult to

to estimate

estimate the

the pore

pore size

size distribution

distribution of

of a given granular material whose

grain

grain size distribution is is known.

known.However,

However,aafirst

firstapproximation

approximationisispresented

presented here

here toto estimate

estimate 𝐷𝑝D. If

p.

If uniform grain size is assumed, one can reason that the number of grains per unit

uniform grain size is assumed, one can reason that the number of grains per unit volume, 𝑁, should volume, N, should

be

be approximately

approximately equal equal to to the

the number

number ofof pores

pores in

in the

the same

same volume.

volume. The

The number

number ofof grains

grains per

per unit

unit

volume

volume of of the

the filter

filter layer

layer would

wouldbe be

(1 − 𝑛𝑓 ) 𝑛𝑓

𝑁 = 1 − nf 3 = nf (21)

N = 𝜋/6𝐷𝑓3 = 𝜋/6𝐷𝑝 33 (21)

π/6D f π/6D p

in which 𝐷𝑓 is the nominal spherical diameter of grains in the filter layer and 𝐷𝑝 is the nominal

spherical diameter of the pores. From Equation (21), the nominal pore diameter in the filter grains

can be approximated in terms of grain size as follows:

Water 2018, 10, 1757 11 of 20

in which D f is the nominal spherical diameter of grains in the filter layer and D p is the nominal

spherical diameter of the pores. From Equation (21), the nominal pore diameter in the filter grains can

be approximated in terms of grain size as follows:

v

u nf

Dp = D f u

3

t (22)

1 − nf

Yet, the approximation of uniform grain size may be misleading and the characteristic pore size

must be truly dependent on the grain size distribution. As an alternative approach, Uno et al. [29]

experimentally determined the mean diameter of the pores in a granular material as:

1 nf

Dp = Df (23)

2 1−n f

If the analysis presented in this subsection is to be repeated for a soil parcel covering a much

larger area (D D f ) beneath the filter, then the force balance should be formulated for the entire soil

column, including not only the base soil but also the filter layer. Failure in such a situation means that

the entire soil column is sucked out by the pressure gradient. Neglecting the friction forces, the critical

hydraulic gradient for failure of entire soil column can be formulated as weight of the soil column

counter-balanced by the hydraulic gradient:

Bf

(icr )col = (s − 1) (1 − n) cos α + s f − 1 1 − n f cos α (24)

∆z

The criterion given in Equation (24) is previously defined by Alcérreca-Huerta and Oumeraci [24].

One can see that the criterion defined in Equation (20) is more critical than the failure mechanism

formulated in Equation (24), that is, icr < (icr )col .

Last but not the least, it should be emphasized that when the grain size ratio of filter to base

material is smaller than a certain value (cf. Equations (2) and (3)), the resistance against piping

increases very sharply due to the forming of filtration zones within the pores of filter and bridging

phenomenon [3,5]. Although these effects have not been accounted for here, the filter criteria depending

on the grain size ratio should not be overlooked.

4. Results

4.1. Comparison of the Steady Piping Criterion with the Available Data

In this section, the derived criterion for piping under a steady hydraulic gradient (without a filter

layer, cf. Equation (17)) will be compared with the values from the literature. In order to see the

performance of this criterion in estimating the critical steady hydraulic gradient for piping, two datasets

are used for comparison. The first dataset is the experimental findings of Fleshman and Rice [13],

whereas the second one is the numerical modelling results of Tao and Tao [14].

Fleshman and Rice [13] employed a cylindrical container with a diameter of D = 5.1 cm and

a length of ∆z = 12.7 cm. They have put the soil into the container in layers and compacted each

layer. Once their sample is saturated they gradually increased the hydraulic gradient such that steady

conditions prevail. They described piping process in a successive four stages: (1) first visible movement;

(2) heave progression; (3) boil formation; and (4) total heave. Their experimental data is summarized

in Table 3.

Water 2018, 10, 1757 12 of 20

Table 3. Summary of available data from [13,14], which shows the critical hydraulic gradient for piping

in steady case.

Ref. Data No. Soil Type Porosity, n ∆z/D

Gravity, s ϕ0 (◦ ) Gradient for Piping, icr

[13] 1 Ottawa 20–30 sand 2.64 35 0.35 2.49 1.95

[13] 2 Ottawa graded sand 2.64 35 0.35 2.49 2.12

[13] 3 Angular 20–30 sand 2.64 37 0.43 2.49 2.72

[13] 4 Angular graded sand 2.64 38 0.42 2.49 2.99

[13] 5 No. 100 garnet sand 3.87 39 0.47 2.49 2.89

[14] 1 N/A 2.65 26.57 0.36 2.47 1.67

[14] 2 N/A 2.65 26.57 0.38 2.47 1.39

[14] 3 N/A 2.65 26.57 0.38 2.47 1.36

[14] 4 N/A 2.65 26.57 0.40 2.47 1.29

[14] 5 N/A 2.65 26.57 0.40 2.47 1.29

[14] 6 N/A 2.65 26.57 0.39 2.47 1.32

[14] 7 N/A 2.65 26.57 0.38 0.59 1.26

[14] 8 N/A 2.65 26.57 0.38 1.11 1.28

[14] 9 N/A 2.65 26.57 0.38 1.55 1.29

[14] 10 N/A 2.65 26.57 0.37 2.53 1.45

[14] 11 N/A 2.65 26.57 0.37 3.52 1.68

[14] 12 N/A 2.65 0.00 0.35 2.40 1.23

[14] 13 N/A 2.65 14.04 0.37 2.51 1.38

[14] 14 N/A 2.65 26.57 0.37 2.55 1.45

[14] 15 N/A 2.65 36.87 0.38 2.58 1.53

[14] 16 N/A 2.65 0.00 0.36 2.47 1.32

[14] 17 N/A 2.65 14.04 0.37 2.51 1.42

[14] 18 N/A 2.65 26.57 0.37 2.53 1.45

[14] 19 N/A 2.65 26.57 0.37 2.55 1.45

[14] 20 N/A 2.65 26.57 0.37 2.53 0.16

[14] 21 N/A 2.65 26.57 0.38 2.56 1.51

[14] 22 N/A 2.65 26.57 0.39 2.58 1.38

[14] 23 N/A 2.65 26.57 0.39 2.62 1.32

Tao and Tao [14] conducted a numerical modelling study following a similar setup to [13] in their

numerical container with spherical grains. They applied parametric changes in soil characteristics to

see the sensitivity of the critical hydraulic gradient for piping. Their computational fluid dynamics

numerical model was using a discrete element method (CFD-DEM) to model the behaviour of each

particle. They have showed that their algorithm was capable of capturing the physics of the process.

Tao and Tao [14] considered the same four stages that has been described above [13] and regarded the

fourth stage (total heave) as piping. Their dataset is also enlisted in Table 3.

Figure 5 shows the comparison of the results found from Equation (17) with available data.

It should be noted that the data points no. 12 and no. 16 from [14] are not included in Figure 5 since

the angle of friction of those points are given as zero.

As can be seen from Figure 5, there is a fair agreement between the critical gradients predicted

by Equation (17) and the data points. The discrepancy between the predicted values and the data

from [14] tends to increase for small values of the angle of friction. The formulation derived tends to

slightly underestimate these values. Although the reason is not clear, the secondary resistive processes

(bridging, etc.) may be responsible for the discrepancy. The two data points from [13] that are the

farthest from the line of agreement are data no. 3 and 4, both of which are angular grains. This point

also suggests that angular grains may be more enhancing in terms of secondary resistive processes.

Water 2018, 10, 1757

x FOR PEER REVIEW 13 of 20

Water 2018, 10, x FOR PEER REVIEW 13 of 20

Figure 5. Cross-plot of critical hydraulic gradient for steady flow piping; comparison of Equation (17)

Figure 5.

Figure Cross-plot of

5. Cross-plot of critical

critical hydraulic

hydraulic gradient

gradient for

for steady

steady flow

flow piping;

piping; comparison

comparison of of Equation

Equation (17)

(17)

with experimental data from [13] and numerical model data from [14]. See Table 3 for details.

with

with experimental

experimental data

data from

from [13]

[13] and

and numerical

numerical model

model data

data from

from [14].

[14]. See

See Table

Table 33 for

for details.

details.

4.2. Experimental

Experimental Findings

Findings on Unsteady Piping

4.2. Experimental Findings on Unsteady Piping

Figure

Figure6a6ashows

showsthe

thepressure

pressure time time series recorded

series recordedduring TestTest

during No. No.

103, where the soil

103, where the(medium sand)

soil (medium

Figure 6a shows the pressure time series recorded during Test No. 103, where the soil (medium sand)

experienced piping piping

sand) experienced under sudden

under sudden hydraulic loading.loading.

hydraulic This picture

This is typicalis for

picture the sudden

typical for the loading

sudden

experienced piping under sudden hydraulic loading. This picture is typical for the sudden loading

tests.

loadingFigure

tests.6bFigure

shows6b theshows

pressure the profile

pressure with respect

profile to respect

with depth attothe instant

depth when

at the the maximum

instant when the

tests. Figure 6b shows the pressure profile with respect to depth at the instant when the maximum

hydraulic gradient attained

maximum hydraulic ( 𝑡 = 26.3

gradient attained (t =s).26.3

Thes). hydraulic gradient

The hydraulic is calculated

gradient is calculatedfrom from pressure

pressure

hydraulic gradient attained ((𝑝 ( −𝑡 p=

/𝛾−𝑝

p22/γ 26.3

00/𝛾)

/γ ) s). The hydraulic gradient is calculated from pressure

measurements

measurements such as i 𝑖== (𝑝2/𝛾−𝑝

such as . As

. Assuch

such the

thepressure

pressuregradient

gradient time

time series

series is

iscalculated

calculated

−00 /𝛾). As such the pressure gradient time series is calculated between

between

between

measurements such as 𝑖 = 𝑧z2 −0

depths 0–2

depths 0–2 cm,

cm, 0–5

0–5 cm

cm andand 0–25 𝑧

0–252 −0 cm.

cm. ThisThis sort

sort of

of aa hydraulic

hydraulic gradient

gradient isis consistent

consistent withwith the

the force

force

depths

balance 0–2 cm, 0–5

approach cm and

defined in 0–25

Section cm.3 above.

This sort of a hydraulic gradient is consistent with the force

balance approach defined in Section 3 above.

balance approach defined in Section 3 above.

(a) (b)

(a) (b)

Figure 6. (a) Pressure time series recorded at Test No.

No. 103, sudden hydraulic loading; (b) Pressure

Figure 6. (a)depth

Pressure time series

ofrecorded

maximumatpressure

Test No.gradient

103, sudden ∂( hydraulic

p/γ)

= 𝜕(𝑝/𝛾) loading; =(b) Pressure

profile with at the instant pressure gradient ((= ∂z ))measured,

𝜕(𝑝/𝛾)

measured, 𝑡t = 26.3

26.3 s.s.

𝜕𝑧

profile with depth at the instant of maximum pressure gradient (= ) measured, 𝑡 = 26.3 s.

𝜕𝑧

The hydraulic gradient time series of Test No. 103 is presented in Figure 7. As can be seen

The hydraulic gradient time series of Test No. 103 is presented in Figure 7. As can be seen the

the steepest hydraulic

The hydraulic gradient

gradient timeisseries

at theofclosest location

Test No. 103 istopresented

soil surface and its7.value

in Figure As can = 1.53.

is ibe seen the

steepest hydraulic gradient is at the closest location to soil surface and its value is 𝑖𝑚𝑎𝑥 =max 1.53. The

The critical

steepest hydraulic

hydraulic gradient

gradient is atcalculated

the closestwith respect

location to Equation

to soil icr = is

(17)itsisvalue

surface and 𝑖𝑚𝑎𝑥Thus,

1.26. = 1.53.

piping

The

critical hydraulic gradient calculated with respect to Equation (17) is 𝑖𝑐𝑟 = 1.26. Thus, piping is

critical hydraulic gradient calculated with respect to Equation (17) is 𝑖 = 1.26. Thus, piping is

expected. It should be mentioned that that the friction angle between the 𝑐𝑟 Plexiglas side walls of the

expected. It should be mentioned that that the friction angle between the Plexiglas side walls of the

Water 2018, 10, 1757 14 of 20

is expected. It should be mentioned that that the friction angle between the Plexiglas side walls of

′0

container

the tanktank

container andand

thethesoilsoil

inside it was

inside it was takenasas𝛿δ==𝜑ϕ

taken /3/3[27].

[27].On

Onthethe other

other hand, driving

hand, the driving

pressure gradient of the sudden hydraulic loading was ∆H/L

pressure gradient ∆𝐻/𝐿 = =1.67, where 𝐿

1.67, where is the

L is the thickness

thickness of the

soil layer.

soil layer.This

Thisvalue

valueis is incidentally

incidentally larger

larger than

than the the measured

measured maximum

maximum hydraulic

hydraulic gradient.

gradient. This

This point

pointbe

shall shall be discussed

discussed below.below.

Test No.

No. 103.

103. The maximum pressure gradient is

attained at t𝑡==26.3

attained at 26.3s.s.

Figure

Figure 8a 8a presents

presents the the pressure

pressure timetime series

series atat Test

Test No.

No. 1003,

1003, where

where thethe soil

soil experienced piping.

experienced piping.

As

As can

can be

be seen, the period

seen, the period of of the

the oscillatory

oscillatory loading

loading is 𝑇=

is T 10 s,s,aa value

= 10 value that

that matches

matches withwith the

the period

period

of storm waves. In Figure 8b, pressure profiles at two different instants are

of storm waves. In Figure 8b, pressure profiles at two different instants are given. When the hydraulic given. When the hydraulic

gradient

gradient is is maximum

maximum (upward(upwardpeak) peak)and andwhen whenititisisminimum

minimum (downward

(downward peak).

peak). It isItseen

is seen

thatthat

the

the downward peak value of the hydraulic gradient that the soil

downward peak value of the hydraulic gradient that the soil experiences during the oscillatory experiences during the oscillatory

loading

loading is is significantly

significantly sharper,

sharper, especially

especially close close toto the

the surface

surface of of the

the soil

soil sample.

sample. Figure

Figure 99 presents

presents

the

the time

time series

series ofof the

the hydraulic

hydraulic gradient

gradient measured

measured duringduring TestTest No.

No. 1003.

1003. The

The imbalance

imbalance between

between the the

upward and downward peak pressure gradients are also evident

upward and downward peak pressure gradients are also evident from this figure. The maximum from this figure. The maximum

value

value ofof the

the upward

upwardhydraulic

hydraulicgradient

gradientvalue valueisisimax𝑖𝑚𝑎𝑥==0.82,

0.82,whereas

whereas thethe

driving

driving hydraulic

hydraulic gradient

gradient of

the oscillatory

of the oscillatory motion

motion waswas∆H/L∆𝐻/𝐿==1.00. 1.00.The Thecritical

criticalhydraulic

hydraulicgradient

gradientcalculated

calculated withwith respect

respect to to

Equation (17)

Equation (17) is 𝑖cris i = 1.59, whereas it is i = 1.26 with respect to Equation (9)

𝑐𝑟 = 1.59, whereas it is 𝑖𝑐𝑟 = 1.26 with respect to Equation (9) (when friction forces

cr (when friction forces

are

are disregarded).

disregarded). It It is

is interesting

interesting to to see

see that

that thethe soil

soil underwent

underwent piping

piping although

although thethe driving

driving pressure

pressure

gradient

gradient is significantly lower than the critical steady state value. It should be stressed out that

is significantly lower than the critical steady state value. It should be stressed out that this

this

soil is silty fine sand, which has the lowest hydraulic conductivity

soil is silty fine sand, which has the lowest hydraulic conductivity value among the tested soils value among the tested soils (cf.

(cf.

Table

Table 1).

1).

Figure

Figure 10 10 shows

shows the the pressure

pressure and and hydraulic

hydraulic gradient

gradient time

time series

series data

data from

from Test

Test No.

No. 307,

307, sudden

sudden

hydraulic

hydraulic loading of the gravel. As can be seen the resulting maximum hydraulic gradient is

loading of the gravel. As can be seen the resulting maximum hydraulic gradient is around

around

i𝑖max = 0.2 although the driving pressure gradient was ∆H/L = 6.67. This significant difference is due

𝑚𝑎𝑥 = 0.2 although the driving pressure gradient was ∆𝐻/𝐿 = 6.67. This significant difference is

to the high hydraulic conductivity of the gravel which dissipates the

due to the high hydraulic conductivity of the gravel which dissipates the driving pressure gradient driving pressure gradient very

quickly. Thus, Thus,

very quickly. the soiltheis soil

not is

subjected to a sufficiently

not subjected high pressure

to a sufficiently gradient

high pressure to initiate

gradient piping. piping.

to initiate As can

be seen from Table 2, it was not possible to initiate piping in gravel, neither

As can be seen from Table 2, it was not possible to initiate piping in gravel, neither in sudden loading in sudden loading nor the

oscillatory loading cases.

nor the oscillatory loading cases.

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10,xx FOR

FOR PEER

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REVIEW 15of

15 of 20

20

(a) (b)

(a)

(a) (b)

(b)

Figure 8. (a) Pressure time series recorded at Test No. 1003, oscillatory hydraulic loading; (b) Pressure

Figure

Figure

Figure 8.(a)

8.8. (a)Pressure

(a) Pressuretime

Pressure timeseries

time seriesrecorded atTest

recordedat Test No.

TestNo. 1003,

No.1003, oscillatory

1003,oscillatory

oscillatoryhydraulic

hydraulic

hydraulic loading;

loading;

loading; (b)(b)

(b)

𝜕(𝑝/𝛾) Pressure

Pressure

Pressure

profile with depth at the instant of maximum and minimum pressure gradient (𝑖 𝜕(𝑝/𝛾) =

𝜕(𝑝/𝛾)

∂( p/γ ) ) measured,

profile

profile with

profilewith depth

withdepth at the

depthatatthe instant

theinstant of

instant of maximum

of maximum and minimum

and minimum

maximum and pressure

minimumpressure gradient

pressuregradient (𝑖 = 𝜕𝑧) measured,

gradient(𝑖 (i== 𝜕𝑧 ∂z) measured,

) measured,

𝜕𝑧

t𝑡 =

= 33.0

33.0 ssand

𝑡𝑡 =

= 33.0

33.0 ss and

130.4

and130.4 s, respectively.

s, respectively.

130.4 s,s, respectively.

and 130.4 respectively.

Figure

Figure 9. Hydraulic

Hydraulic gradient

gradient time

time series

series recorded

recordedat

at Test

TestNo.

No. 1003.

1003. The

The maximum

maximum pressure

pressure gradient

Figure 9.9.Hydraulic

9. Hydraulic gradient

gradienttime

timeseries recordedatatTest

seriesrecorded TestNo.

No.1003.

1003.The

Themaximum

maximum pressuregradient

gradient

pressure is

gradient

is

is attained

attained at

at 𝑡

𝑡 =

= 33.0

33.0 s.

s.

attained

is attained t =𝑡 33.0

at at s. s.

= 33.0

(a)

(a) (b)

(b)

Figure 10.10.

Figure

Figure 10. Data

Data from

Data

from (a)

TestTest

from

Test No.No.

No. 307307

307 (a) Pressure

(a) Pressure timetime

(a) Pressure

time series; (b) Hydraulic

series;

series; (b) Hydraulic

(b) Hydraulic (b)

gradient time series.

gradient

gradient time series.

time series.

Figure 10. Data from Test No. 307 (a) Pressure time series; (b) Hydraulic gradient time series.

Water 2018, 10, 1757 16 of 20

Water 2018, 10, x FOR PEER REVIEW 16 of 20

In

In order

order to to observe

observe the the relationship

relationship between

between thethe driving

driving hydraulic

hydraulic gradient

gradient andand the

the hydraulic

hydraulic

gradient

gradient experienced

experienced by by the

the soil,

soil, these

these two

two values

values are

are cross-plotted

cross-plotted for for each

each set

set of

of data.

data. Figure

Figure 11 11

presents the data for medium sand with 𝛼 = 0°◦ and silty fine sand with

presents the data for medium sand with α = 0 and silty fine sand with α = 0 . On these figures, 𝛼 = 0°.

◦ On these figures,

the

the critical

critical hydraulic gradient for

hydraulic gradient forsteady

steadypiping

pipingestimated

estimatedby byEquations

Equations(9)(9) andand (17)

(17) areare also

also shownshown on

on both

both axes.

axes. TheThe data

data points

points where

where piping

piping is is encountered

encountered areare plotted

plotted with

with red

red markers.

markers. With

With respect

respect to

to Figure 11a, the piping criterion estimated with Equation (17) seems to capture

Figure 11a, the piping criterion estimated with Equation (17) seems to capture the piping limit but this the piping limit but

this

doesdoes

not not

holdhold for silty

for silty finefine

sand sand

data data in Figure

in Figure 11b.11b.

TheThe general

general behaviour

behaviour is that

is that thethe data

data points

points in

in Figure 11 align close to the line of agreement for small values, in other words

Figure 11 align close to the line of agreement for small values, in other words the pressure gradient the pressure gradient

generated

generated within

within thethe soil

soil isis close

close toto the

the value

value ofof the

the driving

driving pressure

pressure gradient

gradient forfor low

low hydraulic

hydraulic

gradient

gradient loadings.

loadings. As As the

the driving

drivinghydraulic

hydraulicgradient

gradientincreases,

increases, thethe pressure

pressure dissipation

dissipation within

within the the

soil

soil increases and the hydraulic gradient experienced by the soil decreases. Generally

increases and the hydraulic gradient experienced by the soil decreases. Generally speaking, the fine soil speaking, the

fine soil

tested tested

comes outcomes

to be out

more toprone

be more prone topiping,

to unsteady unsteady piping, asSince

as expected. expected. Since the

the hydraulic hydraulic

conductivity

conductivity of the soil

of the soil in Figure 11b isinvery

Figure 11b

low, theispore

verywater

low, cannot

the pore water

easily cannot

react to theeasily react

driving to the gradient

pressure driving

pressure gradient by flowing through the soil grains. Consequently, the

by flowing through the soil grains. Consequently, the inertia of the pore water triggers piping. Thisinertia of the pore wateris

triggers

one of thepiping.

main This is one of

differences the main

between differences

steady between

and unsteady steady

piping, andthat

such unsteady piping,

the inertia termssuch that

become

the inertia terms become effective in the unsteady case. It is also interesting to

effective in the unsteady case. It is also interesting to observe from both Figure 11a,b that the difference observe from both

Figure

between 11a,b that the

sudden difference

hydraulic loadingbetween

and sudden hydraulic

oscillatory hydraulicloading

loadingandseems

oscillatory

not tohydraulic loading

be too distinct in

seems

terms not to beeffect

of their too distinct in terms of their effect on the soil.

on the soil.

(a) (b)

Figure

Figure 11.11.Driving pressure

Driving gradient

pressure (∆𝐻/𝐿)

gradient vs. experienced

(∆H/L) maximum

vs. experienced pressurepressure

maximum 𝑖𝑚𝑎𝑥 =

gradientgradient

𝜕(𝑝/𝛾) ∂( p/γ)

imax =. Data . Data points corresponding to piping are shown with red markers. (a) Tests with

∂z points corresponding to piping are shown with red markers. (a) Tests with medium sand medium

𝜕𝑧

◦ ; (b) Tests with silty fine sand α = 0◦ .

= 0Tests

𝛼sand

= 0°;α (b) with silty fine sand 𝛼 = 0°.

Figure 12 presents the unsteady piping test data of silty fine sand for inclination angles of α = 18.5◦

Figure 12 presents the unsteady piping test data of silty fine sand for inclination angles of 𝛼 =

and 34◦ . As can be seen the behavior is generally the same with the horizontal soil surface (α = 0◦ )

18.5° and 34°. As can be seen the behavior is generally the same with the horizontal soil surface (𝛼 =

case. Comparing the Figures 11 and 12,b it can be seen that the higher the face slope is, the more prone

0°) case. Comparing the Figures 11b and 12a,b it can be seen that the higher the face slope is, the more

to piping the soil is. As the soil face gets inclined, the self-weight of the soil that resist against piping

prone to piping the soil ◦is. As the soil face gets inclined, the self-weight of the soil that resist against

decreases. In the α = 34 case given in Figure 12b, the soil experienced piping for hydraulic gradients

piping decreases. In the 𝛼 = 34° case given in Figure 12b, the soil experienced piping for hydraulic

as low as 0.5.

gradients as low as 0.5.

Water 2018,

Water 10, x

2018, 10, 1757

FOR PEER REVIEW 17 of

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20

Water 2018, 10, x FOR PEER REVIEW 17 of 20

(a) (b)

(a) (b)

Figure 12. Driving pressure gradient (∆𝐻/𝐿) vs. experienced maximum pressure gradient 𝑖𝑚𝑎𝑥 =

Figure

Figure 12.

𝜕(𝑝/𝛾) 12. Driving pressure

Driving gradient

pressure (∆𝐻/𝐿)

gradient vs. experienced

(∆H/L) maximum

vs. experienced pressure

maximum 𝑖𝑚𝑎𝑥 =

gradientgradient

pressure

𝜕(𝑝/𝛾) . Data

∂( p/γpoints

) corresponding to piping are shown with red markers. Tests with silty fine sand (a)

𝜕𝑧 =

imax . Data . Data

points points corresponding

corresponding to piping to

are piping

shown are

withshown

red with red

markers. markers.

Tests with Tests

silty with

fine silty

sand (a)

𝜕𝑧 ∂z

𝛼 = 18.5°;

fine sand (b)α 𝛼==18.5

(a) 34°.

◦ ; (b) α = 34◦ .

𝛼 = 18.5°; (b) 𝛼 = 34°.

The data

The data

The

obtained

data obtained

obtained inin the

in the case

the case of

case of gravel

of gravel is

gravel is given

is given in

given in Figure

in Figure 13a,b

Figure 13a,b for

13a,b for inclination

for inclination angles

inclination angles of

angles of

of 𝛼

α 0◦

𝛼 = 0°

= 0°

and

and 18.5 ◦ respectively. As stated above, it was not possible to generate

18.5°, piping in the case of gravel,

and 18.5°,, respectively. generate piping

respectively. As stated above, it was not possible to generate piping in in the

the case

case of

of gravel,

gravel,

which has a very high hydraulic conductivity. From Figure 13, once again again it is evident that sudden

sudden

which has a very high hydraulic conductivity. From Figure 13, once again it is evident that sudden

hydraulic loading and oscillatory hydraulic loading have almost the same effect

hydraulic loading and oscillatory hydraulic loading have almost the same effect on on the

the soil.

soil.

(a) (b)

(a) (b)

Figure 13. Driving

13. Driving pressure

pressure gradient

gradient (∆H/L)

(∆𝐻/𝐿) vs. experienced

vs. experienced maximum

maximum pressure

pressure 𝑖𝑚𝑎𝑥 =

gradientgradient

Figure

𝜕(𝑝/𝛾) 13. Driving

∂( p/γ ) pressure gradient (∆𝐻/𝐿) ◦ vs. experienced

◦ maximum pressure gradient 𝑖𝑚𝑎𝑥 =

imax =

𝜕(𝑝/𝛾) . Tests

∂z . Tests

with with(a)

gravel gravel (a) α =(b)

𝛼 = 18.5°; 18.5

𝛼= 34°.α = 34 .

; (b)

𝜕𝑧 . Tests with gravel (a) 𝛼 = 18.5°; (b) 𝛼 = 34°.

𝜕𝑧

In Figure 13b, where the soil face is inclined, the maximum hydraulic gradient attained by the

In Figure 13b, where the soil face is inclined, the maximum hydraulic gradient attained by the

In Figuretwo

soil is almost 13b,times

where the soil

larger face is inclined,

compared to Figurethe 13a,maximum hydraulic

the horizontal gradient

soil face. attained

The two data by the

points

soil is almost two times ◦

larger compared to Figure 13a, the horizontal soil face. The two data points

soil is almost

of gravel for αtwo times

= 34 larger

will not becompared

given fortoreasons

Figure of13a, the horizontal

space but in thosesoil face.

tests theThe two data

hydraulic points

gradient

of gravel for 𝛼 = 34° will not be given for reasons of space but in those tests the hydraulic gradient

of gravel for 𝛼 = 34° will not be given for reasons of space ◦

but in those tests the hydraulic

experienced by the soil was slightly higher than the α = 18.5 case, supporting the above statement. gradient

experienced by the soil was slightly higher than the 𝛼 = 18.5° case, supporting the above statement.

experienced by the soil was slightly higher than the 𝛼 = 18.5° case, supporting the above statement.

5. Discussion and Remarks for Practical Applications

4. Discussion and Remarks for Practical Applications

4. Discussion and Remarks for Practical Applications

It has been shown that the piping behaviour of soil under steady hydraulic gradient and unsteady

It has been shown that the piping behaviour of soil under steady hydraulic gradient and

It hasgradient

hydraulic been shown thatdifferent.

is quite the piping behaviour

In the case of of soil hydraulic

steady under steady hydraulic

gradient, where gradient and

the driving

unsteady hydraulic gradient is quite different. In the case of steady hydraulic gradient, where the

hydraulichydraulic

unsteady gradient is constant

gradient or very

is quite gradually

different. increasing,

In the no inertia

case of steady terms gradient,

hydraulic are present. Butthe

where in

driving hydraulic gradient is constant or very gradually increasing, no inertia terms are present. But

driving

unsteady hydraulic

hydraulicgradient

loading,isthe

constant or very

pore water gradually

is forced increasing, no

to be accelerated. inertia

Then, the terms are present.

hydraulic But

conductivity

in unsteady hydraulic loading, the pore water is forced to be accelerated. Then, the hydraulic

in unsteady

of the hydraulic

soil (drainage loading,

condition) the pore

becomes water is

important forforced to how

deciding be accelerated.

fast the poreThen,

water the

would hydraulic

react to

conductivity of the soil (drainage condition) becomes important for deciding how fast the pore water

conductivity of the soil (drainage condition) becomes important for deciding how fast the pore water

would react to the pressure gradient. In the latter case, a simple force balance approach would not be

would react to the pressure gradient. In the latter case, a simple force balance approach would not be

Water 2018, 10, 1757 18 of 20

the pressure gradient. In the latter case, a simple force balance approach would not be sufficient to

come up with a correct piping criterion but a more general solution of the porous media flow equations,

including the inertia terms, is needed [30].

Another mechanism that makes the soil more vulnerable to piping under unsteady hydraulic

gradient is the lack of secondary resistive effects in the soil, such as bridging and filtration zones [3–5].

In the case of a granular filter layer that protects the soil against piping, these mechanisms become

effective when a certain amount of base soil infiltrates into the filter layer. But when an unsteady

(instantly increasing) hydraulic gradient is applied, the development of such secondary resistive

mechanisms may not be possible before piping.

In practical applications, it is of great concern to design a proper filter layer as a countermeasure

against piping. The design requirements can be enlisted as follows:

• The grain size ratio of the filter layer to the base soil must comply with the filter criteria given in

Equations (1)–(4). This would ensure that the base soil will not be able to move through the grains

of the filter layer without clogging the pores but the pore water can be drained easily through the

filter. Hence, piping resistance would be enhanced.

• It was seen that the hydraulic conductivity is an important parameter in piping, especially when

the hydraulic gradient acts unsteadily. Therefore, the selection of low hydraulic conductivity base

soils (especially for coastal structures) must be omitted if possible (see also [2]).

• The thickness of the filter layer must be carefully determined. To this end, the criterion given with

Equation (20) can be used to define the minimum filter layer thickness B f . The thickness of the

base soil parcel, ∆z, can be taken as zero to omit the uncertainties and to stay on the safe side.

Equations (18) and (22) can be used to determine the active lateral earth pressure coefficient (Ka )

and the filter pore size (D p ), respectively. It should be noted that the criterion for the total failure

of the entire soil column given by [24] and defined in Equation (24) comes out to be less critical

than the piping criterion (icr < (icr )col ).

Still, there are many points yet to be enlightened by future research. Further experimental

work and/or numerical modelling studies are necessary to fully reveal the mechanism of unsteady

piping and to test the effect of filter layer characteristics on piping under unsteady hydraulic

loading conditions.

6. Conclusions

In this study the mechanism of piping in hydraulic and coastal structures in the case of steady and

unsteady hydraulic gradient was investigated. For the steady hydraulic gradient case, a force-balance

equation that includes the friction terms and the inclination of soil surface is derived and the results

obtained from this equation were compared with the available experimental and numerical model

data from literature. To investigate the piping in the case of unsteady pressure gradient, experiments

were conducted utilizing a novel experimental setup. With this setup, piping of three different kinds

of soil was investigated under two different kinds of unsteady hydraulic loading; sudden loading and

oscillatory loading. In order to minimize the scale effects, the value of the driving pressure gradient and

the period of oscillatory hydraulic loading was chosen to reflect the field values for coastal structures,

thanks to the experimental setup. The following conclusions can be drawn from this study:

• In the case of steady hydraulic loading, the comparison of the force-balance equation (Equation

(17)) and the available data from the literature shows that friction forces are effective in resisting

against piping. However, there are quite many uncertainties in estimating the friction forces.

Therefore, it may be safer to resort to the force balance equation with zero friction (Equation (9))

for design purposes when there is no filter layer. The effect of filter layer on increasing the friction

forces is formulated (Equation (20)) in terms of the filter layer thickness.

• The mechanisms of piping under steady and unsteady hydraulic loadings are quite different since

the inertia terms become effective in the unsteady loading case. Generally speaking, soil is more

Water 2018, 10, 1757 19 of 20

prone to piping in the case of unsteady hydraulic loading. This was also shown by Tomlinson

and Vaid [3] when they increased the hydraulic gradient in a rapid manner and got piping under

a much lower hydraulic gradient compared to the gradually increasing case.

• Experimental findings showed that the period of oscillatory hydraulic loading did not have

a significant effect on the results for the tested periods of loading (T = 8 ∼ 12 s). Additionally,

the sudden hydraulic loading did not generate a distinctly different effect on the soil compared to

the oscillatory.

• The hydraulic conductivity of the soil becomes very important for piping vulnerability under

unsteady hydraulic gradients, such that low conductivity soil was seen to be much more

susceptible to piping. As the hydraulic conductivity gets higher, the soil becomes more resistant

to piping under unsteady hydraulic loading. Therefore, the usage of low hydraulic conductivity

soils in coastal structures must be omitted, as also suggested by the design guidelines [2].

Author Contributions: Conceptualization, formal analysis, writing V.S.O.K.; contribution to formal analysis,

data curation, review & editing R.E.K.

Funding: This research received no external funding.

Acknowledgments: The support of Taylan Bagci in the execution of the experiments is gratefully acknowledged.

Conflicts of Interest: The authors declare no conflict of interest.

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