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Sivakugan (2004)

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**Chapter 6 Effective Stresses and Capillary
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6.1 INTRODUCTION When soils are subjected to external loads due to buildings, embankments or excavations, the state of stress within the soil in the vicinity changes. To study the stability or deformations of the surrounding soil, as a result of the external loads, it is often necessary to know the stresses within the soil mass fairly accurately. Elastic solutions are quite popular in geotechnical engineering. Here, the entire soil mass is assumed to be a continuous elastic media, and the theory of elasticity is applied to determine the state of stress at a point. Some special cases such as the vertical stress increase beneath uniformly loaded square and strip footings are given in most textbooks. Harr (1966), Poulos & Davis (1974), Terzaghi (1943) and several others developed elastic solutions in geotechnical engineering. These developments, with more refinements, have been summarised in design handbooks (Canadian Geotechnical Society 1992; Fang 1991; Winterkorn & Fang 1975). Nevertheless, soils do not deform elastically. Further, they are particulate media. Therefore, the elastic solutions should only be used with caution. 6.2 EFFECTIVE STRESS CONCEPT In saturated soils, the normal stress (σ) at any point within the soil mass is shared by the soil grains and the water held within the pores. The component of the normal stress acting on the soil grains, is called effective stress or intergranular stress, and is generally denoted by σ'. The remainder, the normal stress acting on the pore water, is knows as pore water pressure or neutral stress, and is denoted by u. Thus, the total stress at any point within the soil mass can be written as:

σ =σ'+u

(6.1)

This applies to normal stresses in all directions at any point within the soil mass. In a dry soil, there is no pore water pressure and the total stress is the same as effective stress. Water cannot carry any shear stress, and therefore the shear stress in a soil element is carried by the soil grains only. 6.4 VERTICAL NORMAL STRESSES DUE TO OVERBURDEN GL h X

Figure 6.1 Overburden stress at a point in a homogeneous soil

2.2) u = γ wh Therefore. 6. In a soil mass with three different soil layers as shown in Fig.γwh = γ′h GL h X Figure 6. γ1 Soil 2.4. 6. Let the saturated unit weight and submerged unit of the soil be γsat and γ′ respectively. (6.N. The total vertical normal stress at X is given by: σ v = γ sat h The pore water pressure at this point is simply. 6. 6.3 Overburden stress at a point in a homogeneous saturated soil When the water table is at some depth below the ground level as shown in Fig. for simplicity we will assume that the water table is at the ground level. the normal vertical stress at a depth of h is simply γh.3.1). γ2 Soil 3. Overburden stress at a point in a layered soil Now let’s see what happens in a saturated soil? For the soil shown in Fig. γ3 Figure 6. Sivakugan (2004) 2 In a dry soil mass having a unit weight of γ (see Fig.3) σ v' = σ v − u = γsath . the effective vertical normal stress is. GL h1 h2 h3 X Soil 1. If there is a uniform surcharge q placed at the ground level. this stress becomes γh+q. the total and effective vertical stresses and the pore water pressure can be written as: .2.Effective Stresses and Capillary . (6. the vertical normal stress at X is γ1h1 + γ2h2 + γ3h3.

N. and χ is a constant that can be determined from triaxial test and varies between 0 and 1.Effective Stresses and Capillary .4) Here uw and ua are the pore water pressure and pore air pressure respectively. 6. Here. air. the normal stress within a soil element is carried by the water. Therefore.5 Capillary tube in water . Sivakugan (2004) 3 σ v = γ m h1 + γ sat h2 u = γ w h2 σ ' = γ m h1 + γ ' h2 v GL h1 h2 X Figure 6. the situation is a bit more complex. use saturated unit weight for soil below the water table and bulk or dry unit weight for soil above water table. In dry soils χ=0 and in saturated soils χ=1.3 CAPILLARY EFFECTS IN SOILS T α α T Capillary tube of inner diameter d d hc Figure 6.4 Overburden stresses at a point when the water table is below the ground level When computing total vertical stress. and the soil grains. the normal stress can be split into three components and written as: σ = σ ' + χu w + (1 − χ )u a (6. When the soils are partially saturated.

hc γ w = T cos α πd 4T cos α γ wd (6.Effective Stresses and Capillary . it increases the effective stresses significantly. the capillary rise within a soil can be written as: hc (m) ≈ 0. and larger the capillary rise. water rises to a height of hc within the tube.073 N/m.N. and increases the effective stress. For equilibrium of the water column. finer the soil.6) Using typical values of T = 0.8) As you would expect. smaller the capillary tube diameter. Clays have the most capillary rise. 6. Therefore. EXAMPLE 1.7) What do these have to do with soils? The interconnected voids within the soil can act like capillary tubes (not straight though) and allow the water to rise well above the water table. This can be written as: πd 2 4 Therefore. Gravels are so coarse that there will be negligible capillary effects.8. Capillary pressure is a pore water pressure that is always negative. 6. The water column is held by the surface tension T at the top (see inset). This can be also inferred from Eq. which works well for sands and silts. Capillary pressure is always negative and gives a suction effect.6.03 d (mm) (6. Sivakugan (2004) 4 Let’s look at some simple physics on capillary. Plot the variation of total and effective vertical stresses.6. it can be shown that: hc (m) ≈ 0. α = 0° and γw = 9810 N/m3 in Eq.15 D10 (mm) (6. . the weight of the water column is balanced by the vertical components of the surface tension. 6. Immediately. and pore water pressure with depth for the soil profile shown below in Fig. which acts at an angle of α to vertical. which will come in any time we have to compute stresses when there is water in the soil. Capillary rise can be few milli metres in sands to several metres in clays. 6. The “capillary tube” diamater of a soil is approximately 1/5 of D10. You have to be quite clear with the effective stress principle.5. Since this occurs while there is no change in total stress. A capillary tube is placed in a dish containing water as shown in Fig.5) hc = (6.

5) = 186.5) + (4)(19.3 . At the ground level.6 kPa At 10 m depth. and join them by straight lines.9 = 173. σv = (4)(17.2 kPa At 6 m depth.2 6 108.2 – 58.0) = 281.9 127. the unit weight is constant.6 Soil profile for Problem 6. 1 σv' (kPa) u (kPa) depth (m) σv (kPa) 0 0 0 0 4 71. u and σv’ in Ex.6 = 88.8) = 71. it is adequate if we compute the values at the layer interfaces and water table location.81) = 107.6 10 186.2 kPa u = (6)(9.2 – 107.8) + (2)(18.N.2 0 71.5 kN/m3 Sandy gravel γsat = 19. and therefore the stresses vary linearly.2 kPa.5 kN/m3.2 – 19. Table 6.1 Solution: Within a soil layer.5) + (4)(19.9 kPa ∴σv’ = 281.2 kPa u = (2)(9.0 kN/m3 4m 5m Figure 6. Therefore.1 Values of σv.9 kPa ∴σv’ = 186.2 107.3 15 281.8) + (2)(18.81) = 19. u and σv’ computed above are summarized in Table 6. Sivakugan (2004) 5 GL Gravely sand γsat = 18. σv = (4)(17. σv = (4)(17.3 kPa At 15 m depth.6 kPa ∴σv’ = 108.2 19. γm = 17. u = 0 ∴σv’ = 71. σv = (4)(17.6 88.9 173.5) + (5)(19.3 kPa The values of σv.81) = 58. and u=0 At 4 m depth. σv = 0 .9 = 127.8) + (2)(18.5) = 108.1. σv’ = 0.Effective Stresses and Capillary .2 58.8 kN/m3 4m 2m Sand γsat = 19.2 kPa u = (11)(9.

Theoretical soil mechanics. (1962). Sivakugan (2004) 6 The plot is shown below in Fig. van Nostrand Reinhold. and Davis.7 Variation of σv.N. Foundation engineering handbook. and Fang. New York. K. Stress or Pressure (kPa) 0 0 Total stress 4 Depth (m) Pore water pressure Effective stress 8 50 100 150 200 250 300 12 16 Figure 6. u and σv’ with depth REFERENCES Canadian Geotechnical Society (1992). (1975). M. Foundation engineering handbook.F. (1943).H.Effective Stresses and Capillary . 6. E. Canadian foundation engineering manual. McGraw-Hill.E. Harr. H. . 3rd edition. (1974). Poulos. Elastic solutions for soil and rock mechanics.G. H-Y. H. H-Y. New York. Foundations of theoretical soil mechanics. van Nostrand Reinhold. Terzaghi . (1991). New York. Winterkorn. John Wiley & Sons.7. Fang. John Wiley & Sons.

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