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Geotechnics 3 coursework assignment

1. Oedometer Test
In many civil engineering projects it is required to determine the compression characterisation of a soil under specific loading range e.g., to predict foundation settlement over the time. The one-dimensional compression (and swelling) characteristics of a soil (particularly saturated soil) may be measured in the laboratory using oedometer. In the oedometer test, a cylindrical specimen of soil enclosed in a metal ring is subjected to a series of increasing static loads, while changes in thickness are recorded against time. From the changes in thickness at the end of each load stage the compressibility of the soil may be observed, and parameters such as compression index (Cc) and coefficient of volume compressibility (mv) can be determined.



From the changes in thickness recorded against time during a load stage the rate of consolidation can be observed and the coefficient of consolidation (cv) can be measured. The test is fully detailed in BS 1377: Part 5.


To determine compression index (Cc) To determine coefficient of volume compressibility (mv) To determine coefficient of consolidation (cv) To determine coefficient of permeability (k)


You are required to attend and conduct the oedometer test in groups in the geotechnical laboratory located at CA48. For your current laboratory test, perform a sequence of vertical stresses as follows: 50, 100, 200, 400, and 800 kPa. Complete your experimental report and submit it by 21 April 2014. 1

Coursework assignment - Geotechnics 3

Laboratory procedures and measurements

Group: _________

Date: ____________

Soil description

Measurement of the consolidation ring

Diameter, mm Height (original height of the sample), mm Area, mm2 Initial volume, mm3 D= H0 = A= V0=

Initial conditions of the soil sample Mass of the sample, g Moisture content, % Specific gravity Void ratio Bulk density, Mg/m3 Dry density, Mg/m3

m0= w0= Gs= 2.70 e0 = w0Gs = m 0 1000 = = V0 = d = 1+ w 0

Simultaneously apply the first load (50 kPa stress, equivalent to 1 kg) to the hanger, start the stop clock and fill the reservoir with water. Take the dial gauge readings as indicated in Table 1. Table 1. Dial gauge readings Elapsed time t (s) 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 120 240 480 900 1800 t(min) 0 0.17 0.33 0.50 0.67 0.83 1 2 4 8 15 30 -------------------------Pressure stage (kPa)


50 0

100 0

200 0

400 0

800 0

Vertical displacement Hi (mm)

Coursework assignment - Geotechnics 3

Data analysis and results

Calculate the square root of time (Table 1). After filling up Table 1, plot on the chart provided the 200 kPa pressure stage ONLY showing the relation between vertical displacement and square root time.



Vertical Displacement (mm)





3.0 0 1 2 3 4


Square Root Time, t

(min )

Using Taylors method (see the Appendix) find t90 (i.e., the time of 90% degree of consolidation) from the plot of vertical displacement versus square root time.

t90 =
Calculate the coefficient of consolidation cv [m2/year] using the following equation:

cv =

2 2 T90 H d 0.848 H d = t 90 t 90


Hd = drainage path length

Coursework assignment - Geotechnics 3

Determine the vertical displacement Hi measured at the end of each pressure stage: H50= ; H100= ; H200= ; H400= ; H800= (mm)

(insert the calculated Hi values into Table 2) Calculate the void ratio change, ei, and the final void ratio, efi,(i = 1,2,3) at the end of each pressure stage using the following equation (insert the calculated values in Table 2):

ei =

H i (1 + eoi ) H oi


efi = eoi ei

Note. Show your calculation for the 200 kPa pressure stage.

Table 2: Analysis of the compression measurements for each pressure stage

Pressure stage Pressure, 'z [kPa] Initial void ratio, eoi Initial height, Hoi [mm] Height change, Hi [mm] Void ratio change, ei Final void ratio, efi

1 50

2 100

3 200

4 400

5 800

Calculate the coefficient of compressibility mv [m2/MN] using the following equation and the data from the 200 kPa and 400 kPa pressure stages:

mv = e / ('z (1+e0))

Calculate the coefficient of permeability k [m/s] using the following equation:

k = cv mv w

Coursework assignment - Geotechnics 3

Plot the elog'z relationship (i.e. between efi and 'z ) on the chart provided.

Void Ratio, e




Effective Pressure, z' (kPa)

Determine the preconsolidation pressure p using Casagrandes procedure

p =
Determine the compression index Cc

Coursework assignment - Geotechnics 3

Discussion of the results

Provide brief comments on all the results presented above in light of the consolidation theory and consolidation process you learned from the lectures. Also, include any comments you may have regarding the test procedures, errors, time, etc.

Coursework assignment - Geotechnics 3

Review questions
Answer briefly the following questions: 1. To what kind of soils is the consolidation test applicable? Which soil properties can be determined from the consolidation test?

2. Is void ratio change related to the volume change? If yes, what is the relationship between volumetric strain and void ratio?

3. How is consolidation of soils different from compaction of soils?

4. Soil A consolidates faster than Soil B under the same load. Which soil should have a higher coefficient of consolidation, cv? Why?

Coursework assignment - Geotechnics 3

Obtaining t90 from the experimental results

Coursework assignment - Geotechnics 3

2. Problems
Problem 1


The consolidation curve in Figure 1 is typical of a compressible layer 5 m thick. If the existing overburden pressure is 50 kPa, compute the settlement of the layer due to an additional stress of 150 kPa added by a structure. For simplicity, no sub-division of the layer is required. Note that all the necessary soil parameters should be determined and indicated in Figure 1.

(Ans. 2310 m )


Figure 1

Problem 2


A 4.5 m thick layer of fill is placed over a large lateral area having the profile shown in Figure 2. Determine the component of settlement due to primary consolidation of the clay layer. After a sufficiently long period (i.e. the completion of primary consolidation), the fill is removed. Now, determine the component of heave due to swelling of the clay. Assume that the clay layer is initially normally consolidated (NC) and has Cc = 0.45 and Cs = 0.06. In your calculations, divide the clay layer into two sub-layers.

Figure 2
Coursework assignment - Geotechnics 3

Problem 3


A deposit of Swedish clay is 12 m thick, on the average, and apparently drained from the bottom. The coefficient of consolidation for the clay was estimated to be 1x10-4 cm2/s from laboratory tests. A settlement analysis based on oedometer tests predicted an ultimate consolidation settlement under the applied load in the field to be 1.2 m. (a) How long would it take for settlements of 40 and 70 cm to occur? (b) How much settlement would you expect to occur in 5 years? 10 years? 50 years? (c) How long will it take for the ultimate settlement of 1.2 m to occur?

Problem 4


A 20 m thick normally consolidated clay layer has a load of 100 kPa applied to it over a large areal extent. The clay layer is located below a granular fill ( = 2.0 Mg/m3) 3 m thick. A dense sandy gravel is found below the clay. The ground water table is located at the top of the clay layer, and the submerged density of the soil is 0.90 Mg/m3. Consolidation tests performed on 2.20 cm thick doubly drained samples indicate t50 = 9 min for a load increment close to that of the loaded clay layer. Compute the effective stress in the clay layer at the depth of 18 m below the ground surface 4 years after application of the load. For simplicity, assume g = 10 m/s2.

Problem 5


The settlement analysis for a proposed structure indicates that 6 cm of settlement will occur in 4 years and that the ultimate consolidation settlement will be about 25 cm. The analysis is based on the assumption that the compressible clay layer is drained at both its top and bottom surfaces. However, it is suspected that there may not be drainage at the bottom surface. For the case of single drainage, estimate (a) the ultimate consolidation settlement (b) the time required for 6 cm of settlement.

Coursework assignment - Geotechnics 3