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Finite Element and Limit Equilibrium Analyses of the Construction of Floating Roads on Peat

Finite Element and Limit Equilibrium Analyses of the Construction of Floating Roads on Peat



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An essay for the 2011 Undergraduate Awards Competition by Sharon Farrell. Originally submitted for Project at Trinity College, Dublin, with lecturer Dr. Trevor Orr in the category of Engineering & Mechanical Sciences
An essay for the 2011 Undergraduate Awards Competition by Sharon Farrell. Originally submitted for Project at Trinity College, Dublin, with lecturer Dr. Trevor Orr in the category of Engineering & Mechanical Sciences

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Published by: Undergraduate Awards on Aug 29, 2012
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1INTRODUCTIONFloating road is a term commonly used to de-scribe a method of road construction on peat. Thisis a very challenging material to construct over as itis made up of up to 98% water. This high amountmeans that any material placed on top is said to be‘floating’ hence ‘floating road’.Renewable energy has become an important al-ternative to traditional sources of energy that Ire-land are investing substantially in.Windfarms require large amounts of space inisolated areas. In Ireland these conditions are oftenmet in bog regionsThe access roads built experience unique loading pattern to that of standard national roads in regardsto the volume of traffic
and also the magnitude of this loading will be substantial due to the weight of the turbine components.When constructing access roads in peat areas, of-ten the first option looked at is excavation of thematerial however this can be extremely costly de- pending on the depth of peat.Construction over peat must be done in smallload increments. For these types of roads to supportexcessive loading they are embedded with geogridsto provide additional stiffness. Trees can be added atthe bottom is they are readily available but are be-coming less frequent as it can be very costly.[add this paraFloating roads in the past have generally beenconstructed from experience of the designer and byrule of thumb. However the catastrophic failures as-sociated with previous peat failures have increaseduncertainty in floating road designs.As peat is an extremely compressible material thecoefficient of compressibility, M
, and consolidation,C
, parameters are important in design.As peat is loaded the permeability, k, of the ma-terial decreases significantly. This affects the rate of consolidation and thus this parameter is vital whendealing with peat.This paper presents the results of a project thatlooked at the different failure mechanisms of float-ing roads. Based on this a methodology has been de-veloped for engineers to carry out a generic designof a floating road.The analyses discussed in this paper have beenconducted by adopting geotechnical properties of  peat obtained from a vacuum consolidation tests onsamples from Ballydermot Bog, Co. Offaly.As there are no set requirements for floatingroads a set of potential design requirements for Ulti-mate Limit State (ULS) and Serviceability LimitState (SLS) [why SLS? Is this needed for floatingroads?] for floating roads was investigated by look-ing at the Eurocode requirements and ascertainingwhether they are applicable to floating roads.A floating road was assessed using both FiniteElement Analysis (FEA) in PLAXIS, and LimitEquilibrium Analysis (LEA) using SLOPE/W. Dif-ferent configurations of reinforcement (typicallygeogrids) were modelled using each method to de-termine the most efficient use of reinforcement.The project analysed two stages in PLAXIS inwhich stage 1 was modelled as undrained behaviour and stage 2 was modelled first in undrained but thenfollowed by a consolidation period allowing theseexcess p.w.p.s to dissipate and then looking at theresponse of the peat material.SLOPE/W was used to model the undrained be-haviour of the road as it deals with slip failure which
Finite Element and Limit Equilibrium Analyses of the Construction of FloatingRoads on Peat
Sharon. F. Farrell
Trinity College Dublin
is most likely to occur during construction when the peat is at weakest strength.The aim of the two studies was to assess the ef-fectiveness of the different reinforcing materials inorder to develop an optimum floating road designthat would be stable and deemed acceptable toEurocode standards in both stages 1 and 2.2ANALYSIS
 Peat data
The parameters used in the analyses were calcu-lated from two oedometer tests carried out on peatsamples taken from Ballydermot Bog, Co. Offaly.The preconsolidation pressure, σ
, was found to be approximately 6kPa which is within the range for fibrous peat set out by MacFarlane (1969)
. Thiswas obtained from an e-log p plot of the resultsshown inFigure 1and then verified from back cal-culations from insitu conditions.The compression index and swelling index wereobtained fromFigure 1for both oedometer and anaverage value was calculated of 5.4 and 0.74 re-spectively.Figure 1The C
values were obtained by plotting time vsettlement plots for each stress range and areTableTable plotted inFigure 2.
log p
   V  o   i   d   R  a   t   i
Laboratory resultsTheoretical using overburdenpressure, Cc and CsTheoretical using just overburden and initial conditions
Figure 1 - e- log p plot for Oed1
The plots for C
and M
v stress are shown inFig-ure 2andFigure 3.
0123450 50 100 150 200 250
Consolidation Pressure (kPa)
   C  v   (  m   2   /  y  r   )
ave Oed.1 ave Oed4
Figure 2- Oed1 & 4 Cv v consolidation pressure pos-sibly make figure bigger.
InFigure 2, it can be seen that there is a suddendecrease in C
values from points 1 to 2 at around25kPa. This is due to the extreme reduction in voidratio of 2.81 for Oed1 under an increase in stress of 12.5kPa. Looking at Oed4, the reduction in void ra-tio is 1.3 under a load of 6.25kPa.Although this is a relatively large reduction invoid ratio compared to clays, there are larger inter-vals in void ratios throughout the test that do not re-sult in as a dramatic effect. Looking at the stress in-terval from 100-200kPa, the change in void ratio is1.6 however the change in C
is only is 0.48m
/yr.At the interval of 0-6.25kPa, the change in void ra-tio was 1.23 with a drop in C
of 2.35m
/yr.As a result this decrease in void ratio cannot be re-sponsible for the decrease in C
051015200 100 200 300Stress (kPa)
  c  o  e   f   f   i  c   i  e  n   t  o   f  v  o   l  u  m  e  c  o  m  p  r  e  s  s   i   b   i   l   i   t  y   (  m   2   /   M   N   )
Oed1 Oed4
Figure 3 - M
v consolidation pressure
Figure 3plots M
against stress. M
, was calculatedfor each load increment using the equation below.Figure 1
The coefficient of permeability (k) was found us-ing the equation for coefficient of consolidation, c
Rearranged, k = c
an average per-meability was calculated over each stress increment
As both C
and M
decrease with increasing stress arange of permeability values were obtained for eachoedometer testTableandFigure 4shows the plot of   both results.FromFigure 4, Oed1 and Oed4 permeability dif-fer only in approximately 4.5x10
m/s. The lines both continue downwards at an angle and are almost parallel until they veer off and start to flatten outaround the 50-100kPa mark.As the graph begins to level off the permeability isseen to reduce non linearly under a pressure of only25kPa for both tests. This decrease in permeabilityis due to the lack of pathways for the water to flowthrough because as the specimen is compressing, theamount of available and open pathways for the wa-ter to flow are closing up.
0.00E+001.00E-082.00E-083.00E-080 50 100 150 200 250
   k ,  p  e  r  m  e  a   b   i   l   i   t
Oed1 Oed4
Figure 4 - permeability-v-stress lab results
Mesri & Ajlouni (2007) expresses the change in per-meability, C
, using the relationship C
= Δe/log(k/k0), where k 
= initial permeability; k = permeability at end of stage; Δe = change in void ra-tio.This formula is used in PLAXIS to account for changing in permeability of a material.,shows the plot C
, against e. C
lines for fibrous peat andmontmorillonite calculated by Mesri & Ajlouni(2007) are also shown. The results from Oed1 andOed4 are within the range suggested by Mesri &Ajlouni (2007) for a fibrous peat.

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