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Tutorial: Triaxial Tests on Sand

Triaxial Tests on Sand


In this tutorial, Phase2 will be used to model the behavior of sand in
triaxial loading conditions, considering both drained and undrained
behavior.
Topics covered

Determining material properties from experimental data

Drained triaxial tests on sand

Undrained triaxial tests on sand

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Tutorial: Triaxial Tests on Sand

Problem
The aim of this tutorial is to provide the reader with instructions for
modeling triaxial tests on sand in Phase2. The material properties for the
sands are often not provided in the published results for these triaxial
tests. Therefore, the tutorial will begin by explaining the procedure for
using the experimental data to derive the values of these properties.
Following this, the process of building the model in Phase2, as well as
incorporating the loading conditions of the triaxial test will be described.
Kolymbas and Wu [1] performed a series of triaxial tests on a variety of
samples of granular materials; this included drained triaxial tests on
loose Karlsruhe sand. In Fundamentals of Plasticity in Geomechanics
[2], Pietruszczak presents the experimental results of undrained triaxial
tests on several different sands, including samples of very loose Banding
sand. Both references did not provide the material properties for the
sands being used. This tutorial will provide the reader with instructions
for modeling these triaxial tests in Phase2.

Material Properties
As previously mentioned, the material properties for the sands used in
the triaxial tests were not provided in [1] and [2]. However, the
experimental data can be used to derive the key parameters. These
parameters are the cohesion, friction angle, dilation angle and the
hardening parameter. The process used involved plotting a failure line (pq), using the experimental data to calculate the friction angle and
cohesion, and plotting the tangential friction angle against the deviatoric
stress to approximate the hardening parameter B.

Drained Triaxial Tests


The following section of tutorial will describe the process used to derive
the key material properties for the loose Karlsruhe from the experimental
data given in [1].
Plotting the Failure Line
The experimental data given in [1] includes plots of stress ratio versus
axial strain, as well as volumetric strain versus axial strain, for a range
of different confining stress values.
Initially, the stress ratio was used in order to calculate the deviatoric
stress. Since
is given already (it is the same as the confining stress),
we can multiply this value by the stress ratio ( ) in order to solve for the
major principal stress . Finally, the deviatoric stress is calculated by
finding the difference between the major principal stress and the minor
principal stress.

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(1)
Next, the mean stress was calculated using the minor principal stress
and the deviatoric stress (q) with the following equation.
(2)
The deviatoric stress at failure was plotted against the mean stress at
failure for each of the different confining pressure tests being examined.
This is shown in the following figure. A best-fit line was determined using
Microsoft Excel and the equation is shown below.

Figure 2: Plot of the failure line from the triaxial tests


The equation of the failure line shown in Figure 2 is:

1.2381

19.315

(3)

The equation for the Mohr-Coulomb yield surface [2] is given by

(4)

Where

Since this is a triaxial test, the angle


expression to

(5)
is equal to , which simplifies the

(6)

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Tutorial: Triaxial Tests on Sand

Equation 4 corresponds to the best-fit line determined using Microsoft


Excel (Equation 3). By setting Equation 4 equal to Equation 3, we can
solve for the unknown parameters in the Mohr-Coulomb yield surface
equation:
Friction Angle
6 sin
3 sin
sin

1.2381
3

30.9

Cohesion
19.315

tan
19.315 tan

19.135 3 sin
6 cos

9.3

Thus, the failure line was plotted using the results of these tests and the
equation of the line was used to determine the friction angle and the
cohesion of the Karlsruhe sand.
Since the graph of volumetric strain versus axial strain for the Karlsruhe
sand did not show any dilation behavior, the value of the friction angle
was set at a value slightly less than the peak friction angle. A value of 30
was selected for the dilation angle.
Plotting the Hardening Behavior
The last parameter needed to model the behavior of the Karlsruhe sand is
the Hardening parameter. The hardening parameter can be determined
by creating a plot of the tangential friction angle versus the deviatoric
strain, and using the equation of the best fit curve to solve for the
required parameter.
The Mohr-Coulomb hardening equation from [2] is:

tan

tan

(7)

Where is the tangential friction angle and


is the failure friction
angle that was previously determined. In this case, since it is a sand that
is being tested, the elastic strain is essentially zero. Therefore, the plastic
deviatoric strain ( ) is approximately equal to the total deviatoric strain.

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In order to plot the hardening behavior the deviatoric strain is required.


The graph given in [1] gives the volumetric strain and the axial strain,
which can be used to solve for the deviatoric strain. First, the lateral
(horizontal) strain ( ) can be determined using:
(8)
Following this, the deviatoric strain can be calculated using the following
equation:

(9)
The second value needed to plot the hardening behavior is the tangential
friction angle corresponding to each deviatoric strain value calculated
using Equation 8. At each point, the mean stress (p) and deviatoric stress
(q) values (calculated using equations 1 and 2) can be used to determine
the value of M using Equation 4, and the values of cohesion and failure
friction angle that have been previously calculated.
Next, the value of the tangential friction angle at each point can be
calculated by substituting the value of M calculated at each point into
Equation 5. The tangent of these friction angles will be used in the plot of
hardening behavior.
The following figure shows a plot of the tangential friction angle versus
the deviatoric strain for all of the different confining pressure tests
conducted.

Figure 3: Hardening behavior for the triaxial tests

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As previously mentioned, the Mohr-Coulomb hardening equation is given


in equation 7. The failure friction angle has already been determined;
therefore the only unknown parameter is B, the hardening parameter.
Equation 7 was plotted in Excel on the same plot as the hardening
behavior from the triaxial tests and the value of B was varied until a best
fit curve was obtained. This best fit curve is shown in the following figure.

Figure 4: Hardening behavior for the triaxial tests with the best fit curve

In this example, the value of the hardening parameter that produced the
best fit curve was determined to be B = 0.0075.

Undrained Triaxial Tests


The following section of the tutorial will detail the process used to
determine the key material properties for the Banding sand from the
experimental data given in [2]. This procedure is similar to that used for
the drained sand test; a (p-q) failure line was plotted to calculate the
friction angle and cohesion, and the tangential friction angle was plotted
against the deviatoric stress to approximate the hardening parameter.
Plotting the Failure Line
The (p-q) plot for the Banding sand provided in [2] is shown in Figure 5.
As seen in this figure there is a linear region between p values of roughly
0 kPa and 100 kPa.

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Figure 5: Graph of Deviatoric stress versus Mean Stress for the Banding
sand triaxial test.

This linear segment represents the failure line. Therefore, a point on this
failure line was selected (p = 100 kPa and q = 125 kPa) and plotted in p-q
space. Since this is a very loose sand, it was assumed that cohesion is
zero and thus the failure line passes through the origin. The failure line
was created by drawing a line that passes through the point and the
origin. The failure line is shown in the following figure:

Figure 6: Deviatoric Stress versus Mean Stress plotted to show the


failure line for the Banding Sand triaxial test.
The equation of the failure line shown in Figure 6 is:

1.25

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Tutorial: Triaxial Tests on Sand

The same procedure used for the drained test was used to solve the
material properties in this example.
Friction Angle
6 sin
3 sin

1.25

sin

31.1

Cohesion
0

tan
0

Thus, the peak friction angle for the Banding sand was determined to be
31.1. As previously mentioned, since the line passes through the origin
the cohesion is zero.
Similar to the Karlsruhe sand, no dilation behavior was observed in the
plot of volumetric strain versus axial strain given in [2]. Therefore the
dilation angle was set as 31.1, equal to the friction angle.
Plotting the Hardening Behavior
Once again, a plot of tangential friction angle versus deviatoric strain
was created in order to calculate the hardening parameter. The MohrCoulomb hardening equation is given in Equation 7. Once again, it was
assumed that the elastic strain is essentially zero and thus the plastic
deviatoric strain is approximately equal to the total deviatoric strain.
It is important to note that since the tests are undrained and the pore
water is not allowed to escape, no compaction can occur and thus
volumetric strain is zero.
The lateral strain was calculated using Equation 8:
(8)

Following this, the deviatoric strain was calculated using Equation 9:


(9)

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In order to determine the tangential friction angle, the value M was


calculated for each point. At each point, the mean stress (p) and
deviatoric stress (q) values that were previously calculated can be used to
determine the value of M using Equation 4, and the values of cohesion
and failure friction angle that have been previously calculated.

(4)

Finally, the tangential friction angle at each point can be calculated by


substituting the value of M at each point into Equation 6. The tangent of
the friction angle calculated using this equation will be used to plot the
hardening behavior.
(6)
The following plot shows the hardening behavior (tangential friction
angle versus deviatoric strain) for the single test on the Banding sand
sample.

Figure 9: Hardening behavior for the triaxial test on the Banding sand
sample

Once again, the value of the hardening parameter (B) was varied in the
hardening equation (Equation 7) until a best-fit curve was obtained for
the data. A value of B = 0.0075 was determined to provide the best fit; the
curve is shown in the figure below.

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Figure 10: Hardening behavior for the triaxial test on the Banding sand
sample along with the best fit curve.

Summary of Material Properties


The following tables show the material properties determined for the
loose Karlsruhe sand and the Banding sand.

KarlsruheSand
FailureFrictionAngle
30.9
Cohesion
9.3kPa
HardeningParameter(B)
0.0075
Table1:SummaryofMaterialPropertiesforthelooseKarlsruhesand.
BandingSand
FailureFrictionAngle
31.1
Cohesion
0kPa
HardeningParameter(B)
0.0075
Table2:SummaryofMaterialPropertiesfortheBandingsand.

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Model
Thefollowingsectionofthistutorialwilldescribetheprocessfor
constructingamodelinPhase2thatwillreplicatethetriaxialtestsfrom[1]
and[2].Thisprocessincludesenteringthemodelgeometryandloading
conditionsfromthetriaxialtestingsetup,aswellasenteringthecorrect
materialpropertiesforthesandsbeingused.

Project Settings
Open the Project Settings dialog from the Analysis menu and select
the General tab. Select Axisymmetric for the analysis type.

Select the Stages tab. Change the number of stages to 51 as shown in the
following figure.

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Geometry
As previously mentioned, an axisymmetric analysis is being performed.
The Phase2 model therefore consists of an axisymmetric cylinder with
unit height. This will appear as a 1m by 1m square in Phase2.

Select: Boundaries Add External


1. Enter the coordinates (0,0) in the prompt line and hit enter to set
the first point.
2. Continue to define the remainder of the shape by entering the
coordinates (0,1), (1,1) and (1,0) in the prompt line
3. Hit enter to close the shape. This represents the axisymmetric
cylinder in Phase2, as shown in the following figure.

Mesh
Add the finite element mesh by selecting Mesh Setup from the Mesh
menu. In the mesh setup dialog, change the Element Type to 8 Noded
Quadrilaterals.

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Click the Discretize button and then the Mesh button.

Loading
Triaxial tests on sand are performed by applying a hydrostatic confining
pressure on the sample and then applying an axial load. The confining
stress can be modelled in Phase2 by applying a constant field stress with
a constant distributed uniform load on the boundaries.

Select: Loading Field Stress


For these models in Phase2 the horizontal stress and the vertical stress
will both be set equal to the confining stress, which represents the initial
hydrostatic conditions.
The following figure shows the Field Stress conditions entered for the
triaxial test on the loose Karlsruhe sand with a confining stress of 100
kPa; both the horizontal stress and vertical stress have been set at 100
kPa.

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Select: Loading Distributed Loads Add Uniform Load


In addition to the field stress being applied, a uniform distributed load
will be applied to the surfaces of the axisymmetric cylinder. The
distributed load is also equal to the confining stress. This balances the
field stress such that the confining stress is constant throughout the
model, and ensures there will be no displacements in the initial stage of
the model before any axial load is applied.
The following figure shows the Distributed Load applied for the triaxial
test on the loose Karlsruhe sand; a confining stress of 100 kPa is being
used.

This uniform load is applied to the top and right edges of the Phase2
model as these correspond to the surface of the axisymmetric cylinder.

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Boundary Conditions
In these models, the boundary conditions must be set in order to replicate
the triaxial testing conditions. Since this is an axisymmetric analysis, the
left edge of the model will be restrained in the X direction. The bottom
edge is restrained in the Y direction.
In order to produce the loading conditions from the triaxial testing,
incremental displacements will be applied. The total axial strain from
these tests can easily be converted to a displacement since the model has
a unit height; this displacement will then be divided over the 50 loading
stages and applied to the model incrementally.
Drained Triaxial Test
An incremental vertical displacement was applied to the model in the
drained triaxial test, and the right edge of the model was left as a free
surface. The maximum axial strain observed in the tests on the
Karlsruhe sand was 20%, which corresponds to a displacement of 0.2m
for a model with unit height. This displacement was divided evenly into
50 increments, so a displacement of 0.004m was applied in each stage.

Select: Displacements Selection Mode Pick by Boundary Nodes


This will ensure that the displacements can be correctly applied to the
boundary nodes. Now the incremental displacements can be applied.

Select: Displacements Set Displacement

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Next, click on the Stage Factor tab and set the stage factors as follows.
This corresponds to an incremental stage factor of 1/50 or 0.02 per stage.

Select the three nodes on the top surface of the model and hit enter to
apply these displacements. The following figure shows the first
displacement increment applied to the model.

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Undrained Triaxial Test


A similar procedure was used to apply the incremental displacements to
model of the drained triaxial test. However, an additional step is required
for the undrained test. Since the water is not allowed to escape in the
undrained test, and water is incompressible, no volume change occurs in
this test. Therefore, in order to maintain a constant volume in the Phase2
model, a positive horizontal displacement equal to one half of the
negative vertical displacement was applied to the right edge of the
axisymmetric model.
The total axial strain recorded in the test was 20%, corresponding to a
displacement of 0.2m in the negative Y direction. This was divided into
displacement increments that were applied over the 50 stages. The total
horizontal displacement was set at 0.1m in the Positive X direction,
which is one half of the axial (vertical) displacement. This displacement
was divided into increments as well.

Select: Displacements Set Displacement


Click on the nodes on the left side and middle of the top edge of the model
to set the displacements for the top surface. Enter the Nodal
Displacements as follows.

The displacement increments are not identical in all of the stages, as they
were in the drained triaxial test model. Instead, smaller increments have
been used in the early stages, while larger increments are used in the
later stages. Click on the Stage Factors button. The following figure
shows the stage factors used for the first 25 stages.

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Select: Displacements Set Displacement


We are now setting the displacements for the node at the top-right corner
of the model, so select the node and hit enter. This node will have both a
vertical and a horizontal displacement. Set the Nodal Displacements as
follows.

Click on the Stage Factors button. The stage factors used will be identical
to those used for the displacements of the top edge of the model.

Select: Displacements Set Displacement


We will now set the displacements for the final nodes on the right edge of
the model; these are the nodes in the middle and bottom corner of the
right edge. These nodes will only have horizontal displacements. Set the
Nodal Displacements as follows.

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Click on the Stage Factors button. Once again, we will be using the same
stage factors.
The following figure shows the first incremental displacement applied to
the Banding sand model.

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Materials
Drained Triaxial Test

Select: Properties Define Materials


The material properties for the Karlsruhe sand will now be entered in the
Phase2 model. In the elastic properties menu, set the Poissons Ratio
equal to 0.35. This value was selected since the Poissons Ratio of the
sand was not provided in [1], so a typical value for sand was selected. The
Youngs Modulus was not provided as well; therefore once all of the other
material properties had been entered it was varied until the Phase2
model data matched the experimental data.
Set the Failure Criterion as Softening Hardening Model, and enter the
values for friction angle and cohesion that were calculated earlier in the
tutorial. The value of the tensile strength was not provided in [1], so a
typical value of 10 kPa was used.

Click on Model Properties, and select the Cone Property tab in the Model
Properties dialog. The hardening and dilation parameters will be entered
in this window. The hardening parameter (B=0.0075) determined earlier
in the tutorial is entered as the Hardening Property. Next, the dilation
angle (30) is entered.

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Undrained Triaxial Test

Select: Properties Define Materials


The material properties for the Banding sand are entered as follows.
Similar to the Karlsruhe sand, the value of the Poissons Ratio was not
provided, therefore it was set as [2]. In addition, the same procedure was
used to determine the Youngs Modulus; once the other parameters had
been entered, its value was varied until the Phase2 model data matched
the experimental data.
Set the Failure Criterion as Softening Hardening Model, and enter the
values for friction angle and cohesion that were calculated earlier in the
tutorial. The value of the tensile strength was not provided in [1], so a
typical value of 0 kPa was used.

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Click on Model Properties, and select the Cone Property tab in the Model
Properties dialog. The hardening and dilation parameters will be entered
in this window. The hardening parameter (B=0.0075) determined earlier
in the tutorial is entered as the Hardening Property. Next, the dilation
angle (31.5) is entered.

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Compute
Now that the material properties and loading conditions have been
entered, the results can now be computed. Before you analyze your
model, save this as a new file called TriaxialSandTest.fez

Select: File Save


Save the file as TriaxialSandTest.fez.

Select: Analysis Compute


The Phase2 Compute engine will proceed in running the analysis. When
completed, you will be ready to view the results in Interpret.

Interpret
From Model, switch to the Interpret program.

Select: Analysis Interpret

Comparing the Results


Now that the results have been computed, it is possible to compare the
results from the Phase2 model with the experimental data.
Drained Triaxial Test
One of the graphs provided in [1] shows the Stress Ratio versus Axial
Strain curves for the experimental triaxial tests conducted on the loose
Karlsruhe sand. In order to produce a similar graph using the Phase2
model results, we must collect the data for Sigma 1, Sigma 3 and Axial
Strain data for each stage from Phase2. For axial strain, we can use the
Absolute Vertical Displacement; the model has a unit height therefore
the displacement is equal to the axial strain.
First select Sigma 1 as the query

Select: Graph Graph Single Point vs. Stage.


Enter the coordinates (1,1) in the prompt line and hit enter. In the graph
query data dialog, select Query Data as the vertical axis and Stage
number as the horizontal axis. Select all stages to plot as shown in the
figure below.

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Click the Plot button and the following graph will appear.

Right click on the graph and click Copy Data, then you will be able to
paste the data in Microsoft Excel.
Repeat the steps above to obtain the data for Sigma 3 and Absolute
Vertical Displacement. We can then use Microsoft Excel to calculate the
Deviatoric Stress, by finding the difference between Sigma 1 and Sigma
3. As previously mentioned, since our model has a unit height, the
absolute vertical displacement is equal to the axial strain. Thus, we now
have the Deviatoric Stress and Axial Strain values for each stage.

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In the figure below, the curves of Deviatoric Stress versus Axial Strain
from the Phase2 model results at different confining stresses have been
plotted along with the experimental data, in order to compare the two
sets of results. As seen in the figure, the two sets of results are in close
agreement.

Graph of Stress Ratio versus Axial Strain for the experimental data and
the Phase2 model results for the loose Karlsruhe sand.

Undrained Triaxial Test


The same procedure can be used to compare the Phase2 model results
with the experimental data for the undrained triaxial tests on the
banding sand. In this case, experimental data was provided in a graph of
deviatoric stress versus deviatoric strain.
Repeat the steps above to collect the values of Sigma 1, Sigma 3 and
Absolute Vertical Displacement for each stage. Once again, the deviatoric
stress can be calculated by finding the difference between Sigma 1 and
Sigma 3. As previously mentioned in the Material Properties section of
the tutorial, the volumetric strain for the undrained triaxial test is zero.
Substituting this value into Equation 8, and then using Equation 9 to
solve for the deviatoric strain shows that the deviatoric strain is equal to
the axial strain, which as previously mentioned is equal to the absolute
vertical displacement for a model with unit height.

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Now that we have the Phase2 model results for deviatoric stress and
deviatoric strain at each stage, we can compare the results with the
experimental data. The following figure compares the two sets of results;
once again they are in close agreement. There are some differences
between the two sets of data; this may be due to the fact that the Phase2
model uses a constant value of Youngs modulus, while in reality the
value varies with stress.

Graph of Deviatoric Stress versus Deviatoric Strain, comparing the


experimental data with the Phase2 model results for the Banding sand.

Conclusion
This aim of this tutorial has been to provide the reader with step by step
instructions for using Phase2 to model triaxial tests on sand in both
drained and undrained conditions, beginning with deriving the material
properties for the sand, and subsequently modeling the loading conditions
and geometry of the triaxial test in Phase2.
As shown in the Phase2 verification file Drained and Undrained Triaxial
Tests on Sand, Phase2 can be used to model triaxial tests on a number of
different sands. These include drained triaxial tests on dense and loose
Karlsruhe sand [1], loose Ottawa sand [3], dense and loose Hostun Sand
[4], as well as undrained triaxial tests on Banding sand and loose Reid
Bedford sand [2]. It is left as an exercise for the reader to attempt to build
these other models in Phase2.

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References
[1] D. Kolymbas and W. Wu (1990), Recent Results of Triaxial Tests with
Granular Materials, Powder Technology, 60, 99-119.
[2] S. Pietruszczak (2010), Fundamentals of Plasticity in Geomechanics,
Leiden, The Netherlands: CRC Press.
[3] K. Alshibli and S. Sture (2000), Shear Band Formation in Plane
Strain Experiments of Sand, Journal of Geotechnical and
Geoenvironmental Engineering, 126, 495-503.
[4] T. Schanz and P.A. Vermeer (1996), Angles of friction and dilatancy
of sand, Gotechnique, 46, 145-151.

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