AbstractThis study presents physical observations and insights into particle migration characteristics throughout the suffusion process. Using a purpose-built coaxial permeameter cell, suffusion experiments were conducted on idealized internally unstable gap-graded granular soils at varying fines content and hydraulic loading conditions. The specimens were prepared with a mixture layer comprising finer and coarser fractions underlying a coarse layer composed of the coarser fraction alone. This enabled the finer fraction within the mixture layer to migrate through the coarse layer with upward seepage flow. The local porosity profile along the specimen was determined using spatial time-domain reflectometry and an inversion algorithm, which enabled the development of a novel field map of the difference in porosity from the initial condition. This field map provided a visual guide of the spatial and temporal variation in porosity and enabled particle migration internally within the specimen to be quantitatively characterized from onset to progression to washout. The limiting onset condition identified from the field map was shown to be comparable to that obtained using conventional approaches, thereby providing strong validation for the application of porosity-based field maps. As suffusion progressed, the height of infiltrating finer particles into the coarse layer increased linearly with time, while the overall rate of particle migration from the mixture layer to the coarse layer evolved in a non-linear manner with the rate of migration increasing as the specimen reached a complete mixture condition, where the finer fraction infiltrated the entire coarse layer. The attainment of a complete mixture condition was dependent on the fabric of the gap-graded soil. Specimens with an underfilled fabric showed a gradual migration process, while specimens with a transitionally underfilled fabric resulted in minimal particle migration followed by a very rapid formation of the complete mixture.

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