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Effective stress

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1.

Saturated soil is a two-phase material a network of soil particles in contact, with water-filled voids in between the particles. At any depth in the ground, there will be a total vertical stress, resulting from the total weight of material (soil water! above that point. Assume we have a sand with a void ratio e = 0.6, and s = 26 kN/m . "his gives a dry unit weight of d = 16.2! kN/m , and a saturated unit weight s"t = 20 kN/m (if w # 1$ k%&m'!. ((efer to notes on )hase (elationships! Suppose we have a layer of this sand, 1$ m thick, placed on a smooth level concrete floor. *f the sand is dr#, the vertical stress at a depth of $ = 10 m would be+

"his is somewhat artificial, because it assumes that the total weight of a 1$ m high column of sand is distributed e,ually over an area of 1 m-. .owever, if we looked in detail at the plane where the sand touches the floor, we would see that we have actual contact only on a very small part of each 1 m - of area, so that the actual contact stress between individual sand grains and the floor would be much higher than 1/-.0 k)a.

1olumn of sand, 1 m 2 1 m in plan, 1$ m high d # 1/.-0 k%&m'. "otal weight # 1/-.0 k%, resting on 1 mbase. Actual contact stress on a plane in the soil is 5

When we talk about stress in soil, we are referring to this somewhat artificial notion of the force being averaged over the whole area, and it does not refer to the actual contact stresses or forces between soil particles1. 6or the same layer of soil, but this time full# s"tur"ted (the water table is at the ground surface!, the total vertical stress at a depth of 1$ m would be

*f we installed a standpipe (an open-ended tube! into the soil to a depth of 1$ m, the water level in the standpipe would be at the ground surface (corresponding to the position of the water table!. At the bottom of the tube, the water pressure (u! would then be+

6or stress in a steel bar, the same applies. *f the bar is 1$$ mm - in cross-sectional area, with an a2ial force of 1$$$ %, we imagine the a2ial stress to uniform across the whole cross section # 1$ %&mm -. .owever, if we looked down at the atomic level, we would see a much more complicated interaction between atoms. At this scale, the concept of stress is meaningless. School of Civil & Resource Engineering, The University of Western Australia

EG&G (AMEC2121)

So, in this case, the water is carrying 1$$ k)a of the total of -$$ k)a, so we can imagine that the soil is carrying the remaining 1$$ k)a. "he principle of effective stress states that at any stage, the effective stress (7! between the soil particles is+ "otal stress

- = . u

or, in terms of vertical stress+

-v = v . u

(hich 0ives

Stress between the soil particles # effective stress > )ressure in the pore water # u

= >

"here is now less stress between the soil particles than if the soil was dry i.e. when the soil is dry, the water pressure is 8ero, and the effective stress # total stress+

-v = v = 162.! kP".

"he diagram illustrates the concept of effective stress. Another way of thinking about this is that when under water, the soil particles have a bu !"#t $ei%&t that is less than the weight in air. 9e can imagine that, under water, s # -/ 1$ # 1/ k%&m', and we can now ignore the water, and work out the effective stress :ust as we did for the dry soil, but using the buoyant weight of the soil particles+ 7v # 1$ 2 1/&(1 e! # 1$ 2 1/&1./ # 1$$ k)a.

2.

'

A 1 m block of ,uart8 would weigh ) = 26 kN, assuming the unit weight of ,uart8 as -/ k%&m '. *f the coefficient of friction = 0.!, it would re,uire a hori8ontal force of + = 0.! % 26 = 1 kN to push it across the ground. .owever, if we were doing this at the bottom of a swimming pool, the buoyant weight of the block would be only ), = 16 kN, and the hori8ontal force re,uired to shift it would be only + = 4 kN (assuming is not changed!. "hus, it;s this bu !"#t weight that;s effective in resisting the sliding force. "he strength of soil is purely frictional. *t depends on an internal coefficient of friction, and the effective stress between the soil particles. "his will be covered in detail in A<=1-1--.

),=&('.*ol

EG&G (AMEC2121)

'

7ot"l vertic"l stress v: the weight per unit plan area of everything above a point in the ground, including soil and water (i.e. what is the total weight of a column of soil, with a base plan area of 1 m -, and a height e,ual to the distance from the point to the surface!. 1an find v if we know the total unit weight (sat if it;s saturated, or :ust if it;s not!. 6niti"l pore ("ter pressure uo: for ?hyrostatic@ conditions, this is found by knowing how far below the water table the point is, and knowing that the unit weight of water is w. "he effective vertic"l stress 8v is then+

8v = v . uo

*n the e2ample shown below, the soil above the water table is assume to have a unit weight = 19 kN/m , and the saturated soil below the water table to have a unit weight of s"t = 21 kN/m . "he calculation of the effective vertical stress is shown below. "he ?("ter t",le@ represents the level that water would eventually be at in a hole dug in the ground, where the water pressure is ?hydrostatic@ - i.e. where the water pressure increases uniformly with depth in e2actly the same way that it increases in an open body of water (e.g. a lake!. ?+#drost"tic@ means e2actly that - ?static@ - i.e. no flow. "hat means that the total head is e,ual at all depths (the pressure head increases with depth, but the elevation head reduces with depth!. So, it follows that for vertical flow to occur, the water pressure distribution must be different from hydrostatic. "his difference is what we will call later excess pore pressure. :or Point ;+ "otal vertical stress )ore (water! pressure "herefore, effective vertical stress

v = 2 < 19 = ! < 21 = 1 > kP". u = ! < 10 = !0 kP" (taking w 1$ k%&m'!. 8v = 4> kP".

Stress, , u

Am 0m ; sat # -1 k%&m'

-m

# 1A k%&m'

Cv # v

u = (.$(

Cv

EG&G (AMEC2121)

?.

water surface 9ater pressure u

6or many applications, the water level is above the ground surface (bottom of the sea, for e2ample!. *n this case, assuming ?hydrostatic@ conditions, the relevant calculation for point A is+

d(

(

Bepth below water surface (m!

)ore water pressure+ u = (.&d( = $' =ffective vertical stress+

sat

@v

= v . u = & (.d( = s"t. $' . (.&d( = $' = (.d( . (.d( = s"t. $ . (. $ = $ ( s"t. . ('

"herefore, if the water level is at or above the ground surface, the vertical effective stress is independent of the water depth (dw!, if no flow is occurring.

!.

*n this case, the total head at A is less th"n at the ground surface, and flow is occurring do(n("rds through the soil. "otal vertical stress at A is still the weight of everything above that point+

)ore water pressure is given by the height of water in a standpipe installed to point A which would be the same as the water level in the header tank connected to point A+

$ ;

u = (.&$'

"herefore, effective vertical stress at A is+

1ompare to the ?no flow@ case above the effective stress is incre"sed by (& h'. Bo(n("rd flo( incre"ses the vertic"l effective stress.

EG&G (AMEC2121)

6.

*n this case, the total head at A is greater than at the ground surface (water pressure at the ground surface is 8ero, as the water is simply overflowing the container!, and flow is occurring upwards through the soil. "he total vertical stress at A is the weight of everything above that point+

v = s"t.&$'

)ore water pressure is given by the height of water in a standpipe installed to point A which would be the same as the water level in the header tank connected to point A+

u = (.&$ = h'

"herefore, effective vertical stress at A is+

1ompare to the ?no flow@ case above the effective stress is reduced by w(h!. Cp("rd flo( reduces the effective stress. %ote that we can reach a condition of $ero effective stress when+

$ ;

s"t ( h = i critic"l = i c . the ?critical hydraulic . Eut ( $ gradient@ re,uired to achieve 8ero effective stress, which would mean 8ero strength in a frictional (sand! soil. "his condition is known as ?,uick@ the meaning of the term 1Auick s"nd2. *n this condition, the sand is effectively a thick fluid, with 8ero strength.

s"t ( 20 10 ic 1 ( 10

An alternative way of looking at this is to consider a ? free ,od# di"0r"m@ of the block of soil. Assume the cross-sectional (plan! area of the block is 1 m-. "he weight of the block is ) = s"t.volume = s"t.&$ % 1 % 1'. "he upward water force on the base of the block is :( = u % 1 % 1 = (.&$= h'. "herefore, the block will start to be unstable when :( = ), i.e. when

(&$= h' = s"t.&$', or when $.& s"t . (' = h. ( (e-arranging this gives the

same as above i.e. instability when 1Br"02 model:

h s"t ( = $ (

u = (&$=h'

9e can think of these effects in ?drag@ terms. As water flows past the sand grains, the water imposes a ?drag@ force on the sand grains. "hus, if the flow is downwards, it tends to have the effect of increasing the downward force between grains, whereas if flow is upwards, the drag force tends to counteract the force of gravity, thereby reducing the contact force between the grains. Some te2tbooks talk of calculating a ?seepage pressure@ to determine the effect, but the method outlined above is clearer.

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