Materiales de Construcción, Vol 64, No 315 (2014)

A comparison of experimental methods for measuring water permeability of porous building rocks

S. Galvan
LPA, Unidad Asociada UA-CSIC (Alicante), Spain

C. Pla
LPA, Unidad Asociada UA-CSIC (Alicante); Universidad de Alicante, Spain

N. Cueto
LPA, Unidad Asociada UA-CSIC (Alicante); Universidad de Alicante, Spain

J. Martínez-Martínez
LPA, Unidad Asociada UA-CSIC (Alicante); Universidad de Alicante, Spain

M. A. García-del-Cura
LPA, Unidad Asociada UA-CSIC (Alicante); Instituto de Geociencias IGEO, CSIC, UCM (Madrid), Spain

D. Benavente
LPA, Unidad Asociada UA-CSIC (Alicante); Universidad de Alicante, Spain


This paper compares different experimental methods for measuring water permeability in 17 different porous building rocks. Both commercial apparatus and specially made designed permeameters are used for characterising intrinsic permeability and hydraulic conductivity, k, of rocks in the range of 10−12 to 10−4 m/s (~ 10−19−10−11 m2 or ~ 10−4−104 mD). We use both falling head and constant head permeameter methods including the triaxial and modified triaxial tests and a classical constant head permeameter.
Results showed that for very low and low permeability samples (k< 10−6 m/s), triaxial conditions were found the most accurate procedures and they provided similar or slightly lower permeability values than constant and falling head methods. The latter techniques were highly recommended for permeable and high permeable porous building materials. Water permeability values were also linked to effective porosity and interpreted in terms of interparticle and vugs porosity. Finally, some modifications in the apparatus and procedures were carried out in order to assess water permeability in soft materials, which involve the use of non-saturated samples.


Permeability; Water transport properties; Ornamental stone; Sedimentary rocks

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