Flow through porous media: A procedure for locating the free surface

Sara J. Lacy, Jean H. Prevost

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

112 Scopus citations


A finite element procedure is developed to accurately locate the free surface of unconfined seepage flow through porous media. The free surface is taken as the boundary between wet and dry soils, with flow in the saturated region characterized by Darcy's law. The method involves equations and meshing which are fully consistent with a general formulation for geotechnical engineering problems involving simultaneous solution of pore fluid pressures and soil skeleton displacements. Accuracy and versatility of the proposed procedure are demonstrated by solving various unconfined seepage flow problems through earth structures. Free surfaces and flownets are presented for the calculated flow fields.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)585-601
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal for Numerical and Analytical Methods in Geomechanics
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1987

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computational Mechanics
  • General Materials Science
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Mechanics of Materials


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