1. Application of in situ direct shear device to shear strength
measurement of rockfill materials

1. Research Institute of Hydraulic Structures, Hohai University, Nanjing 210098, P. R. China
2. State Key Laboratory of Hydrology-Water Resources and Hydraulic Engineering,
Hohai University, Nanjing 210098, P. R. China

Abstract: A simplified in situ direct shear test (DST) was developed for measuring the shear
strength of soils in fields. In this test, a latticed shearing frame replaces the upper half of the
shear box used in the conventional direct shear box test. The latticed shearing frame is directly
embedded in the ground to be tested after a construction process and is pulled with a flexible
chain while a constant dead load is applied to the sample in the shearing frame. This simplified
in situ DST has been validated by comparing its results with those of triaxial tests on samples
with parallel gradations under normal stresses less than 100 kPa. In this study, the DST was
further validated by carrying out tests on samples with the same gradations, rather than on
samples with parallel gradations, under normal stresses up to 880 kPa. In addition, the DST was
performed inside fills in two applications.
The DST is one of the most popular laboratory tests for directly determining the Mohr-Coulomb
strength envelope of geo-material because of its time efficiency in shearing and easy operation.
2 Simplified in situ DST
The simplified in situ DST has been detailed by Liu (1999) and Matsuoka et al. (2001), its sketch
is shown in Fig. 3. In the simplified in situ DST, a latticed shearing frame, which is equivalent to
the upper half of the shear box in the conventional DST and made of high-strength steel, is
buried in the ground to be tested, and then is compacted in the same way it would be in the real
construction process. Several latticed shearing frames with different sizes are prepared for testing
materials with different grain sizes. For coarse-grained rockfill, a latticed shearing frame with a
size of 122.5 cm × 122.5 cm × 16 cm is usually used. For gravel or sandy soils, the latticed
shearing frame can be reduced to 63.2 cm × 63.2 cm (area: 4000 cm
) × 16 cm or 31.6 cm × 31.6
cm (area: 1 000 cm
) × 10 cm. The shearing frame is pulled horizontally with a flexible chain
attached to a heavy machine (e.g., a bulldozer) through an oil jack while a constant vertical
(normal) force is applied. The shear force is measured with a load cell that is contained in the
hollow center of the oil jack.

In addition, to minimize the moment caused by the horizontal force F, the chain should be
connected to the shearing frame as near to the shear plane as possible. To date, the maximum
tilting angle of the shearing frame prior to peak strength is 0.8° (Matsuoka and Liu 1998;
Matsuoka et al. 2001), showing that the shearing frame remains almost horizontal during the
shearing process.

TYPE OF SOIL TESTED : Sand,void ratio(e

STRAIN RATE : Not mentioned


Comparison of shear strength of in situ and laboratory DST


1.Test requires heavy set up
2.Lattice frame was inserted in to the soil with the help of rollers so that could affect results

2. Standard Method for In Situ Determination of Direct Shear
Strength of Rock discontinuties (astm d 4554-02 2006)

This test method covers the measurement of peak and
residual direct shear strength in a drained condition of in situ
rock discontinuities as a function of stress normal to the
sheared plane.

ASTM D (4554-12) recommends performance of in situ shear test on rectangular-shaped blocks
of rock of size 700mm x 700mm x 350mm,which are isolated on all surfaces,except for the shear
plane surface.Detailed setup of the equipment is shown should be taken that the
blocks are not to be disturbed during preparation operations and the base of the block should
coincide with the plane to be sheared.A normal load is applied perpendicular to the shear plane
and then a side load is applied to induce shear along the plane of discontinuity.The test requires
emplacement of test specimen in concrete which increases the duration of conduct of test


1.Results can be employed in stability analysis of rock engineering problems.(studies of
slopes,underground openings etc)
2.Tests on intact rocks that are free from planes of weakness are usually accomplished by
using laboratory triaxial testing,but rock with weakness plane visible can be tested in situ by
using this direct shear.


A. Fakhimi, K. Boakye, D. J. Sperling, and V. T. McLemore

A modified direct shear test apparatus was designed and used to measure cohesion and friction
angle of rock pile materials.two test apparatuses were constructed a 30-cm square metal shear
box and 60-cm square metal shear box.

ROCK PILE MATERIAL : Refers to the structures consisting of non-ore material removed when
extracting ore. These materials,referred to in older literature as mine waste,mine
soils,overburden,subore etc.

Fakhimi(2007) has used shear boxes of size 0.3m x 0.3m and 0.6m x 0.6m both of height 0.3m
for in situ testing of soil.He used bucket of excavator loader to provide normal reaction on the
shear box.The box was push by a jack placed horizontally to provide a necessary force for
shearing,every time Excavator loader can not be made available on the site.

Results: For sugar shack west rock pile material.

COMMENT :As expected,the shear stress corresponding to a fixed normal stress increases initially
until it reaches the peak strength,which then reduces gradually towards its residual strength.

COMMENT : Above graphical representation shows Mohr-Coulomb failure envelope for the three
tests conducted on the rock pile material.cohesion is found to be 9.70kpa,Peak Friction Angle = 48

COMMENT: This plot is used to identify the dilation or contraction behaviour of the material
during the test.positive displacements indicate dilation of the material.

1.The range of normal stress used in the shear tests varies between 12 and 70 kpa. Tests were
performed by shearing an undisturbed block along shear plane to a maximum displacement of

2.The preliminary results in in-situ shear testing indicate a range of friction angles of 40
- 50

and those in laboratory are found to be 36
- 54


1.Rock pile materials are heterogeneous and include diverse range of particle sizes.
2.In this study a modified direct shear test apparatus was designed to perform in situ shear test on
rock pile material.
3.This direct shear test apparatus allows a more efficient in situ shear testing compared to
conventional laboratory test.


1. Heavy set up.
2. Reinforced concrete encapsulation is required.
3. For Normal load reaction column is provide which is quite complicated.
4. Overall set up is quite heavy and complicated.

DATE OF PATENT: NOV 06,1984- "Means and method for soil testing"
(Inventor-Wesley F.Buchele,Ames,Iowa)

An inexpensive device which is easily operated to accurately measure the coulomb parameter of
soil.The Coulomb parameters are used in Coulombs equation to calculate the shearing stresses
along a failure surface of the soil.The device includes an instrument to test soil shear strength to
which several weights have been added.To obtain the coulomb parameters,the instrument is
placed on the soil to be tested and weights are incrementally added to it.The instrument is rotated
at each weight increment and shearing sresses are read from its calibrated dial.The stresses are
plotted on a graph from which Coulomb parameters are determined.The shearing stresses of the
soil with any known force to be applied to it can then be determined.

1.Soil testing device of present invention is comprised of cylindrical shaft attached to the
longitudinal axis of conventional soil shear strength instrument such as a Torvane.
2.In using this device,the operator sets the lower plate of the soil strength instrument on the soil
to be tested while keeping the longitudinal axis of the device in a vertical position.for the first
reading,the weights are placed onto the shaft but supported by one hand.The other hand is used to
continuosly rotate the torque knob of the soil strength instrument to assure that the reading is
read during plastic failure.
3.After the test has been run, the shearing stress is plotted on a graph and the Coulomb
parameters of the soil are determined by drawing a straight line on a graph such that the sum of
the perpendicular distances from the shearing stress points to the line is minimized.
4.After these parameters for the soil are determined, the known principle and shearing stress of a
structure that will be placed on the soil, such as a dam, is calculated and compared with the
ability of the soil to support such a structure.

1.This test device measures cohesion and angle of internal shearing resistance separately which
can't be measured with help of other site testing device.
2.Vane shear test principally measures cohesion,attempts to measure internal friction angle have
not been generally successful,this device measures both Coulomb parameters.
3.Torvane shear strength instrument,merely provide an index reading which can be compared
with other readings to determine which soil is weaker. The Torvane instrument's reading also can
not be compared to cohesion of the soil or the angle of internal shearing resistance.
4.Cone penetrometers give an indication of the strength of the soil but do not give usable
information concerning the behaviour thereof.
5.It is therefore a primary objective of present invention to provide an inexpensive means and a
quick and easy method for accurately measuring soil shear strength.
6.Time required for reading and its analysis is less than five minutes for each set of readings.