Geotextile separation design guide

1.0 INTRODUCTION Throughout the world, the demand for new and improved roads and structures is constantly increasing, while the funds available for their construction and maintenance is decreasing at an alarming rate. The modern engineer is therefore faced with the challenge of constructing more economical, low maintenance problem. Geotextile separators, which have been used with great success over the past 30 years in the civil engineering industry, may provide the solution. The engineer has understandably been wary of using geotextiles in applications where very little analytical data is available to substantiate their use. Since the late sixties a great deal of research has been carried out on the subject. This article tries to show this research in order to give the design engineer a clear and concise design guide relating to the use of geotextiles in separation applications. Separation layers are used predominantly in the construction of some poor quality subgrade such as Embankment, Roads and Railways



Figure 1.Geotextile Separator Applications

2.0 SEPARATION The function of a geotextile separator is to maintain the integrity of the fill material allow release of pore water pressure through and within the plane of the geotextile.

Figure 2.Typical Reasons for Deterioration of Fill

and hence increases the consolidation. ·From a construction of point of view. ·Needle-punched nonwovens have the best overall long term drainage performance ·Drainage of subgrade improves with the increased geotextile thickness ·Thick geotextiles are most effective in reducing fines pumping.Figure 3. .Role of Geotextile Separator Throughout the world research on the subject of separation has resulted in the following conclusions: ·The use of a geotextile eliminates base /subgrade intermixing · Greater densities are achieved in the fill material when using a geotextile separator layer ·The use of geotextile separator results in the reduction of porewater the subgrade.the use of geotextile greatly helps in the initial stages of the construction of the embankment by providing a more stable working platform and allows the subsequent filling operation to be carried out more rapidly.

Department of Transportation.1 Embankment separation Due to the immediate cost savings that can be achieved .by far the most commonly used and accepted form of geotextile separation is in the construction of embankments where the loss of fill material during construction over very poor material. Graph 1. which shows the assumed aggregate thickness loss as a function of subgrade strength.A geotextile separation layer can therefore reduce maintenance.Aggregate Loss to Weak Subgrade(FHWA 1989) . Federal Highway Administration(FHWA) Task Force published Table 1 below. 2.S. such as swamps. The U. can be substantial.enable better compaction during the construction stage and the required thickness can be achieved using less aggregate(because less aggregate is lost into the poor subgrade) A secondary benefits is the reinforcing function provided by the geotextile.

. Figure 4.Figure 4 below shows the influence a geotextile separator has with regard to the fill requirements on a subgrade with a low CBR.Based on Table 1. The separation layer can provide reinforcing to the layerworks but this topic is not covered in this document. In these applications geotextile separators are essentially micro versions of embankment separation. which permits a reduction in layerwork thickness. paved and unpaved .2 Roads Roads are divided into two categories. More recently research has been carried out into their use in low cost paved roads.Fill Contamination 2. The main area of application for separators has been in unpaved roads where large (greater than 25mm)vertical deformations are acceptable and poor quality subgrades are used. The function of the separator in road layerworks is to prevent the ingress of fines into the sub-base and to allow the transverse drainage of excess porewater.

⑶the ability of the geotextile to allow dissipation of pore water which improves the material.(12) show that the shear strength of sub-base material was reduced by 20 to 40% when contaminated with cohesive fines in quantities ranging from 2 to 4% of the dry weight of the sub-base aggregate. ⑵the geotextile acts as a filtration layer and prevents the ingress of fines from the subgrade.Maintenance which would otherwise be incurred is also reduced.which would otherwise reduce the quality and bearing capacity of the layer above. The separation layer is generally placed between the in-situ subgrade material and better quality imported material in order to maintain the integrity of the imported material consolidation and hence the bearing capacity of subgrade THR 14”Structural Design of inter Urban and Rural Road Pavements”(18) divides the subgrade material into four categories based on their CBR values namely: ⑴SG4(CBR<3):this material is extremely poor quality and would be . This can be achieved because:⑴in the case of paved roads many of empirical pavement design methods have included additional aggregate to compensate for the losses shown in Table Bell et.

Once again the costs is likely to be recovered due to the reduced maintenance requirements.Graph 1 gives an indication of the losses that can occur when constructing over very poor material. ⑵ SG3(CBR3-7):this case is the most critical as this quality(G10)subgrade is generally acceptable for use in paved roads. The deformation of the soil will be large and for that reason it is recommended that road construction should be restricted to unpaved roads until consolidation of the subgrade has taken place. ⑶ SG2(CBR7-15):in this case the subgrade consists of fairly good quality(G9&G8)material which is unlikely to mix with the layerworks. Savings in fill requirements is not as great as the SG4 category. but is of poor enough quality to allow mixing between the layers. Fines may however be carried with any excess pore water into the layer above thereby reducing the quality of the layer. In this case the ability of the separation layer to drain off the excess pore water is equally important. due to reduced fill requirements. In this case substantial mixing will take place between the subgrade and the fill material . The cost savings incurred during the construction stage. The primary function of the separation layers is therefore to restrict the migration of fines and to allow the adequate drainage.classified as less than G10 standard. Costs may be recovered later in the life of the road due to the reduced maintenance requirements. can be significant and usually justifies the use of a geotextile separator. .

which is intensified by the nature of ballast stone. 2.5): . Depending on the site and boundary conditions different separation layer designs should be considered. these are noted below(Figure.3 Railways The primary function of the separation layer is to prevent the pumping of fines into the ballast and migration of ballast into the subgrade. if required.⑷SG1(CBR>15):in this case the subgrade material is a good quality material(G7 and better).the primary function of the separation layer. is filtration and drainage. The requirements of geotextile separation layers in railway applications are somewhat different to that of embankments and roads due to: (a)Dynamic loading. The extent to which the geotextile undergoes abrasion is as a direct consequence of the dynamics of the materials in direct contact with it. which induces multidirectional flow characteristics (b)Abrasion of the geotextile.

the tamping tines which penetrate about 75mm below the ties and cause excessive movement of the ballast to about 150mm below the ties.Figure 5:Separation in Railways Double sand Protection layer This method is the optimum design method with a sand layer on either side of the geotextile. Geotextile Only This method is used where height restrictions prevent the use of any sand layers or where the cost of suitable sand exceeds the cost of the geotextile. If this is not done.e over concrete in tunnels and bridges or where the subgrade has not been contaminated by ballast. Installation Ensure a minimum of 200mm of ballast is placed above the geotextile prior to the first tamping. The use of a lighter geotextile can be considered to help offset the expense of the sand Single Sand Protection Layer This method is used in new works or areas where height restrictions prevent the use of two sand layers or where the subgrade has low abrasion qualities i. will cause the vibrating ballast . the availability of the very thick nonwoven geotextiles(>100gsm) can obviate the use of sand protection layers. these protection layers prevent excessive wear of the geotextile as a result of the abrasive nature of the ballast and subgrade.

turnouts and road crossings. A general rule of thumb requires that a double layer be used through these abrade holes through the geotextile.425 40-70 2.0 Design Procedure Step 1:Survivability The performance of the geotextile separation layer is directly related to the amount of damage that takes place during construction. The thickness of geotextile separator should be increased when used under high stress areas such as switches.750 90-100 13.000 75-100 4.075 1-10 0. Sand specification Sieve size(mm) Percentage passing by mass 0.200 100 3. The geotextile .

Figure 6 below compares the damage susceptibility of various types geotextile. A geotextile with good conformability (high elongation) is less susceptible to puncture and damage. Thus the whole stress-strain curve of the geotextile must be considered when choosing the generic makeup of the geotextile. Therefore if the geotextile maintains acceptable strength characteristics during the installation/construction stage. Factors such as strength of subgrade and size/shape of fill material should be considered when deciding on the type of geotextile to be subjected to higher stresses and loads during this stage than at any other time during the life of the structure. . which will influence the susceptibility to damage. In some cases geotextiles with similar elongation at failure may have vastly different stress-strain relationships leading up to failure. Hence the first step in the design process is to ensure that the geotextile is not damaged to such an extent that it can no longer function adequately as a separator. it will have sufficient strength to perform adequate as a separator for the design of the each method of manufacture will result in a different stress-strain curve.

Susceptibility to Damage Reduces W: Woven CNW-HB: Continuous Filament Non-Woven-Heat Bonded CNW-NP: Continuous Filament Non-Woven-Needle Punched SNW-NP: Staple Fibre Non wovenNeedle Punched 100 80 60 40 20 W CNW-HB CNW-NP SNW-NP 0 20 40 Strain(%) 60 80 Figure 6:Damage Susceptibility Analysis Roads&embankments The tables below. specify the minimum strength requirements based on the properties of geotextiles known to have performed satisfactorily in past under various installation conditions. based on American and European standards. 40 20 Site Soil Installation CBR at <1 350< 350< 350< 1-2 350< 350< 2< 350< Equipment Group Contact Pressure(KN/M2) Cover Thickness(mm) compacted .

1/3.8/6.100 150 300 450 NR NR E E NR E E S E E S S E S S M S S M M S M M M M=Moderate S=Severe E=Extreme NR=Not Recommended Table 1. The coarseness of the subgrade will affect the . More robust geotextiles are available should the application.9 Moderate Severe Extreme Elongation at Failure Table 2:Strength Requirements These tables should be used as a guide.2/4.8 4. site conditions and /or construction procedures so require. Installation Conditions 50%<Geotextile Elongation/<50%Geotextile Elongation Survivability Burst Strength ASTM D 3786 (KPa) 1450/2700 1750/3500 2000/4000 Grab Strength ASTM D 4632 (N) 800/1200 1200/1900 1900/2300 Trapezoidal Tear ASTM D 4533 (N) 300/450 450/700 700/950 Puncture Resistance SABS 0221-88 (kN) 2. Engineering judgement must be used to assess the severity of the installation conditions. Railways Table 3-6 were produced based on research carried out by various rail authorities worldwide.2 6.

No Contamination d50<13mm discont. cont. Light Contamination 13mm< d50<27mm discont. cont. cont. Light Contamination 13mm< d50<27mm discont. cont. No Contamination d50<13mm discont. the d50 of the subgrade is used to assess the potential damage that will occur. Track Type Ballast Thickness(mm) 200 300 400 E E E E E E E E S E S S E=Extreme S S S S S S M=Moderate S=Severe Table 3: Installation Conditions(Double Sand Layer) Subgrade quality Heavy Contamination 27mm< d50 of abrasion to the geotextile. Track Type Ballast Thickness(mm) . Cont. It should be noted that differentiation is made between continuously welded and discontinuous tracks. Cont.. Subgrade quality Heavy Contamination 27mm< d50 discont.

2/5. Light Contamination 13mm< d50<27mm discont. Engineering judgement must .4/9.4 5. Track Type Ballast Thickness(mm) 200 300 400 E E E E E E E E E E E S E=Extreme E S S S S S M=Moderate S=Severe Table 5: Installation Conditions(No Sand Layer) 50%<Geotextile Elongation/<50%Geotextile Elongation Tensile Strength SABS 0221-88(kN/m) 30/38 38/45 45/60 Puncture Resistance kN) 2. No Contamination d50<13mm discont.2 Survivability Moderate(M) Severe(S) Extreme(E) Elongation at Failure Table 6:Strength Requirements These tables should be used as guide only.2 3.1/3.200 300 400 E E E E E E E E E E E S E=Extreme E S S S S S M=Moderate S=Severe Table 4: Installation Conditions(Single Sand Layer) Subgrade quality Heavy Contamination 27mm< d50 discont. cont. Cont. cont.

and that the smaller pores in the geotextile are larger than the smaller soil particles so that clogging and blinding will not occur. Where flow conditions are expected to be unidirectional the . To determine the soil retention used to assess the severity of the installation conditions. The soil retention requirements are similar to that of a subsoil drain i. embankment separation or multidirectional(dynamic) e.g. Flow conditions may be either unidirectional (static0 e. a full grading and hydrometer analysis as well as the plasticity index (PI) of the soil to be filtered are required. The AOS or O95 of a geotextile indicates the approximate size of the larger particle. which will pass through the geotextile.g. for the mechanical filter stability of geotextiles. rail track separation. In this instance the movement is aided by the vibrations caused by vehicular traffic. it should be noted that particles movement takes place under slightly different circumstances to that of a subsoil drain. Step 2: Soil Retention The second step in the design process is to prevent fines from infiltration the good quality fill material and good quality fill penetrating the poor subgrade. that the larger pores in the geotextile must be smaller than the larger soil particles to prevent piping.e. The retention requirements are expressed in terms of the Apparent Opening Size (AOS) of the geotextile.

geotextile AOS value will be determined by wet sieving(O95W) while for multidirectional flow conditions the hydrodynamic sieving method(O95H) is used.075mm Then geotextile 0.300mm ·soil d50<0.: ·Transverse.and . where the water is able to flow horizontally within the geotextile so as to reduce the amount of ground water infiltration into the imported layer. Roads&Embankments In order to retain soil when geotextiles as a separator the following is recommended: ·soil d50>0.075mm Then geotextile 0.150mm<O95w<0.250mm Railways Due to the dynamic loading and hence multidirectional flow conditions the following is recommended: Geotextile O95w <0.e.100mm Step 3: Permeability Geotextile separators should allow the drainage of excess porewater in two planes i.100mm< O95w <0.

Ks is determined by laboratory/field measurement or estimating using Figure 7. This characteristic allows the ground water to flow in the plane of the geotextile into the longitudinal subsoil drains. thereby reducing the amount of water that would normally percolate into the imported layers.· Normal. where is the water is able to flow through the geotextile into the free draining imported layer above The reduction in pore water pressure in the subgrade due to the drainage capacity of the geotextile increases the bearing capacity of the subgrade and hence the life of the road. In separation the transverse permeability(transmissivity)of the geotextile is of the utmost importance in maintaining the strength of the imported waters. The principle of all permeability criteria is that as long as permeability of the geotextile(kN/kP) is greater than the permeability of the soil(ks)the flow of the water will not be impeded at the soil /geotextile interface. .

0 100. the following criteria should be adhere to: The minimum allowable Normal permeability(kn) is determined by applying a factor of safety of ten to the permeability of the subgrade soil(ks): kn>10*ks the minimum allowable Transverse Permeability(kp) is determined by applying a factor of safety of five to the permeability of the imported .10 1.1 10-2 Soil Permeability Ks(m/s) 10-4 10-6 10-8 10-10 High Gradient 0.01 0.00 10.0 High Confining Stress Practical Size D15(mm) Fine Medium Coarse Clay Silt Fraction Sand Fraction Gravel Fraction Fine Medium Coarse Fine Medium Coarse Figure 7:Typical Permeability’s based on the d15 of the Soil Roads&Embankment Although dependent on soil conditions and hydraulic gradient.Low Confining Stress Low Gradient 0.001 0.

To reduce the risk of clogging the following criteria must be met: .15&16)due to their low transverse permeability.layer(ks): kp>5*ks Railways The use of woven and heat bonded geotextile is not recommended(14. The following criteria should be adhere to: The minimum allowable normal permeability(kn) is determined by applying a factor of safety of ten to the permeability of the subgrade soil(ks): kn>10*ks the minimum allowable Transverse Permeability(kp) is determined by applying a factor of safety of five to the permeability of the imported layer(ks): kp>5*ks Step 4:Anti-clogging In order to function adequately as a separator for the life of the structure the geotextile must be highly porous so that the permeability of the geotextile is not significant impaired if some of the pores are blocked by soil particles.

Roads&Embankment ·For nonwoven geotextiles use the geotextile with the largest porosity(n) available.236 0.122-2.clogging has reduced the permeability to the equivalent of a soil with a d15 of greater than 100mm. In 1995 Metcalfe (1) et al assessed the reduction in permeability of various separators which had been in place for between 3 and 16 years with the following results. However in the case of woven silt film geotextiles the permeability is reduced to the equivalent of a soil .014-0. New Needle Punched Non Woven Heat Bonded Non Woven Woven Silt Film 0.450 Recovered 0.873-1.but not less than 5%.082-0.055 0.146 0. Using the permeability values from the table above and Figure 6 it can be seen that in the case of needle punched and heat bonded geotextiles.656 1.431-0.009 %Reduction 50-98 89-93 27-98 Table 6 *This result may be somewhat misleading as it is very difficult to retrieve and undistributed sample of a woven geotextile due to the nature of the blocking which is peculiar to wovens.112-0.but not less than 60% ·For woven geotextiles use the geotextile with the largest Percentage Opening Area(POA) available.

but not less than 60%. Polyester is one of the more resistant polymers.5 and 8mm.with d15 of between 1. if untreated. If the application requires the geotextile to be exposed to sunlight for an extended period of time allowances must be made for losses in strength. Actual permeability insitu can be expected to be lower than recorded above. The FHWA Task 25(10) recommends the ASTM D 4355(19) test method be used to establish the UV stability of the geotextile and that the strength loss at 150 hours exposure in a Xenon Arc Tester should not be greater than 30%. Railways For needle punched nonwoven geotextiles use the geotextile with the largest porosity(n) available. in particular polypropylene. this may only become critical in the case woven silt film geotextile. Step 5: Durability Ultraviolet degradation due to exposure to sunlight occurs in all polymers. It is a good practice to avoid prolonged exposure of the geotextile to sunlight. Step 6: Jointing Research has shown that inadequate jointing or overlapping of the .

The FHWA Task Force 25 produced the table below in order to overcome this problem. Soil Strength(CBR) <1 1-2 2-3 3< Overlap Unsewn(mm) Not Recommended 950 750 400 Overlap Sewn(mm) 225 150 75 25 Table 7:Recommended Overlaps Figure 8: Recommended method method of sewing Geotextile Specification The required geotextile property values obtained form steps 1-6 are . embankments and railways. This table should be used for roads.geotextile can result in contamination in the vicinity of the joint.

cost-effective geotextile are the inserted. Step 1:Survivability Moderate Severe Extreme Step 2:Soil Retention O95W O95H Step 3:Permeability kn> kp> Step 4:Anti –clogging Nonwovens wovens Step 5:Durability .inserted in the Specification sheet(Table 8). This desktop analysis should br supplemented by laboratory and /or field testing where the application is considered critical based on: ·Structural performance-consequential drainage ·Resultant costs-repair or reconstruction of the structure The property values of the most suitable.

70% strength maintained after 150 hours exposure Step 6:Jointing Unsewn Sewn Table 8: Geotextile Separator Specification Geotextile Type: Property Grab Strength Trapezoidal Tear Puncture Resistance Burst Strength Pore Size O95W O95H Normal Permeability Transverse Permeability Porosity POA UV Stability(150 Hours) Jointing Unsewn Sewn Value Unit N N kN kPa mm mm m/s m/s % % % mm mm Test Method ASTM D4632-86 ASTM D4533-85 SABS 0221-88 ASTM D3786 Franzius Institute CFG 38-017 SABS 0221-88 SABS 0221-88 GTS Visual Assessment ASTM 4355-84 .

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