Chappell, N.A., and Lancaster, J.W. 2006. Comparison of methodological uncertainty within permeability measurements. Hydrological Processes, , accepted.



Permeability measurements are critical to the calculation of water-flow within hillslopes. Despite this, errors in permeability measurements are often ignored, and can be very large particularly in disturbance-sensitive gley soils. This work compares the uncertainties associated six field methods of permeametry applied to a gleyed soil in upland Britain. Slug tests, constant-head borehole permeametry, and falling-head borehole permeametry were undertaken on established piezometers. Additionally, ring permeametry and two types of trench test were evaluated.

Method-related uncertainty due to proximity of impeding layers or high sorptivity soils produces under- and over-estimates of permeability by a factor of up to 0.2 and 5, respectively. This uncertainty band is smaller than the observed effects of anisotropy and temporal variability. Had smearing and soil-ring leakage errors not been minimised the methodological uncertainties would have been so large that they would have distorted the true spatial field of permeability and its estimated impact on the balance of vertical and lateral flow.

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Copyright Dr. Nick Chappell, Lancaster Univsersity 2006. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.