Determination of Critical Head in Soil Piping Academic Article uri icon


  • One of the main mechanisms of failure of levees is a phenomenon called "piping," which generally begins with the formation of a sand boil at the leeward side of the levee, and has been frequently observed to proceed upstream along the base of the levee through a slit formation. The issue of most important concern is to estimate the critical head that could promote the occurrence of piping. Considering the flow through porous media and coupling it with Bernoulli's equation and a critical tractive stress condition, a model is developed for the critical head. Using appropriate transformations, the proposed model takes on a form which supports Bligh's empirical findings. Another model based on critical velocity is also developed to estimate the critical head. The functional form of these two models is evaluated using the critical head versus porosity data from a number of laboratory studies conducted in the Netherlands. These models were found to perform better than did Terzaghi's model.

published proceedings

  • Journal of Hydraulic Engineering

author list (cited authors)

  • Ojha, C., Singh, V. P., & Adrian, D. D.

citation count

  • 77

complete list of authors

  • Ojha, CSP||Singh, VP||Adrian, DD

publication date

  • July 2003