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Schan2, T. & Venneer. P. A. (1996). Giotechtliqul! 46, No.

I, 145-151


Angles of friction and dilatancy of sand


KEYWORDS: laboratory tests; plasticit)'; nnds; shear

Triaxial compression tests were performed on a
quartz sand (Flavigny, Desrues & Palayer, 1990).
This so·called Hostun sand has been used for
many years (Des rues, 1984; Desrues, ColliatDangus & foray, 1988) in model tests and for
research on constitutive modelling. The material
parameters were emin = 0·648; emu = 1·04 I; Ps =
2·65 g!cm]. Fig. 1 shows the grain size distribution.
All samples were compacted by pluviation in a
steel cylinder lined with a rubber membrane
(to = 0·3 mm). Under a back-pressure of Uo =
50 kN/m 2 , the samples (Ho = Do = 100 mm) were
placed in the triaxial cell, back-pressure was
removed, and the samples were consolidated under
ac • To speed up saturation, the samples were
saturated first with C02 and then with water. The
volume change was measured by pore-water
volume change, and the specimens were axially
strained at I% per minute.
Because the hcight-<iiameter ratio Hal Do of all
the samples was unity, special means were
necessary for compensation of end restraint. The
following anti-friction system was used. Both end
plates (enlarged diameter 110 mm) were made
from polished glass with a centre hole for
drainage. A silicon grease-rubber interface was
placed between the plates and the sample. Previous
tests have shown the shear parameters measured
with this system to be equal to those measured


The strength of sand is usually characterized by the
peak friction angle ¢p and the critical state friction
angle ¢Cy. It is generally realized that the peak
friction angel depends not only on density but also
on the stress path, including differences between
plane strain and triaxial testing conditions. Indeed,
plane strain and triaxial strain angles can differ by
more than 5° for a dense sand. For a loose sand at
the critical density it is often suggesled that similar
differences occur (e.g. Stroud, 1971; Lade, 1984).

However, some authors have presented data that
suggest a unique critical state angle (e.g. Rowe,
1962, 1971; Bolton, 1986).

This technical note presents data on a unique
critical state angle. The implication is that the
failure criterion of a very loose sand is accurately
described by the Mohr--coulomb condition, which
gives the known six-sided pyramid in principal
stress space.
The test data on dense as well as loose Hostun
sand are also used to study the rale of dilation.
This topic was extensively treated by Bolton
(1986), and it is now generally accepted that the
triaxial rate of dilation coincides with the rate of
dilation found in plane strain tests. Following
Roscoe (t970), Bohon used an angle of dilatancy
l/Jp for plane strain, but its definition is not
extended to cover triaxial strain. However, an
attempt at this was made by Vaid & Sasitharan
(1991). A different definition is presented in this
technical note which was previously given by
Vermeer & de Borst (1984) but is derived
differently here. Empirical evidence shows that
the definition matches dala from both plane strain
and tria"<.ial srrain.












Manuscript received II January 1995; revised manuscript
accepted 4 May 1995.
Discussion on this technical note closes 3 June 1996; for
further details see p. ii.
* Stuttgart Universi[)'.






Diameter: mm

Fig. 1. Grain-size distribution of Hostun sand


1991). Differences occur beyond an axial strain of 10%. Even with comparable testing procedures. which can lead to a 60% reduction in the 5 -8 initial moduli of axial stiffness. the effect of the lateral membrane restraint was estimated by assuming it to be a right cylinder. With the stiffness of the membrane Em (= 1400 kNl m2 ). A second step in checking the reproducibility and thus the reliability of test data is to compare data from different laboratories. but the deviations between IGS results and IMG results are surprising. Figures 2 and 3 shows test results. and on loose Hostun sand with Yo ~ 13·9 kN/m J and I D = O· 38.146 SCHANZ AND VERMEER . 4 suggests.!. in terms of friction angles the differences between IGS and IMG are smaller than Fig. The bedding error 6.----:':-'O o 5 10 15 20 [1:% Fig. as shown in Fig.. 2. The test data show that the reproducibility of triaxial tests is quite good.!.03 c can be calculated according to (2) where 03 is the radial stress and E] is the radial strain.----------_--.0·0037oill (Goldscheider. as yet there is no clear explanation. with Yo = 16-3 leN/m) and 10 = 1-15. including the lubrication of end plates. To check the reproducibility of test results. this membrane stiffness correction had little impact on the test results. 1 O~#'''--5t----:'.'-~2.r c caused by the lubrication. A direct comparison can be made between the present data (IGS) and dara from the Grenoble Institute of Mechanics (lMG) (Flavigny. as both laboratories have used the same sand and the same testing procedure. stress-strain curves are ploned with the stress ratio on the left vertical axis and strain-strain curves are superposed by ploning the volumetric strain on the right vertical a. the correction stress I!:J. 4. 1982) where 10 (I) is the thickness of the membrnne and 0\ is the axial stress. Mean stress-strain bch:n'iour found in three laboratories friction angles of about 42° and 40° degrees respectively are found (the precise values are given in Table I. Horodecki & Balachowski... Non-Iubricaled ll".-12 conventionally with only filter plates.Oc-----''1~5. The present system ensures a nC3r-unifonn dcfonnation of the sample up to peak stress ratio. four control tests were performed at a fixed cell pressure of OJ ~ 300 kN/m'. when a critical state is approached in which the sample . which is well beyond peak strength.. In contrast to the bedding error. Figure 4 shows that all volumetric strains compare well up to an axial strain of about 10%. Also. Stress-strain bchllviour of dense Hostun sand =: 5. as peak Fig.O.<is. was numerically eliminated using 6t'fto = 0·3[1 .--------------. However.6. different laboratories appear to produce slightly different curves.JO I (1:% Fig. Hadj-Sadok. 3. The comparison was made by using test data for the dense sand and plotting average values for a series of control tests. Siress-strain behaviour of loose Hostun sand . Some differences with classical test data (aspect ratio of two and no lubrication) are expected.exp( . 4.~:'--'-----':---"". -8 FRICTION ANGLES Standard drained triaxial tests were carried out on dense Hostun s:md.L.---------------.-12 5 -8 ~3 o • IGS o IGM .

= R. I ".·1-45·3 11·4-12·1 33·0-33·3 -1. it is interesting to compare these triaxial angles to friction angles measured in plane strain tests by Hammad (1991). P .) Hence it seems that a unique critical state angle ¢cv exists independently of strain conditions./K (5b) -E3/EI. Figure 5 shows the A mechanism with sliding on a 0\--02 plane and the B mechanism with sliding on a 01--<73 plane.. 3.. Shear strength and dilatancy or Hostun sand under triaxial compression dcg~~es I deg~~'es "'. At 17% vertical strain the IGS and Th-1G data yield friction angles of 34. P • degrees /0 '" 0'37 100 46·7-47·5 14'5-14·7 35'5 0·0 200 46·4-47·0 14·1-14·2 32.7 0 respectively. + ¢r/2) (4) For loose sands ¢r is equal to the friction angle ¢cv at critical state. This angle is obtained from the loose sand data in Fig. whereas there is very linle difference for the loose sand at the critical state. he computcd the ratc of energy by adding the effects of two mechanisms. i.3 . The basic idea that follows from these considerations is that there are two contributions to the axial strain. but in addition Rowe's idea of superposition is emphasized as this is applied when considering angles of dilatancy. and it is thus tempting [0 apply equation (3) to each separate mechanism. at an axial strain of 17%. A significant difference is thus found for the dense sand. 1971) stress dilatancy theory has been shown by Barden & Khayan (1966) and Wood (1990). At the end of the test. In particular. sliding on planes governed by the stress ratio 0\102 (mechanism A) and sliding on other planes governed by olloJ (mechanism B) are considered.80 and 35. a peak friction angle of 45-47° is found for the dense sand and a maximum friction angle of 32. Each sliding mechanism constitutes a planar deformation. How~ ever.. degrces "'~s: degrees <pps. Similarly to Rowe.5-34·5 0·0 400 4. this critical state is not yet fully reached but softening and dilation are clearly damping out.5° for the loose sand.fEIA = DA = RA/K (Sa) = D." -""-' 1 dewees 10 "'" 1-15 IGS 41·9 34-8 13·3 IMG 40·1 35·7 14·0 Non-lubric:ued 41·8 l7-7 12·6 10 = 0·38 34-4 IGS 34-4 I VALIDATION OF THE STRESS-DILATAJ<CY THEORY Several theories have been developed for predicting the volume strain in triaxial testing as a function of the axial strain. Rowe derived these relationships by considering the ratc of energy dissipation. The laner data are listed in Table 2 for various values of the confining stress. 1991) • 2 °3: kN/m ". On changing from plane state of strain to triaxial testing conditions. (This finding is confirmed below by data for other sands. This is also done here. the applicabiliIy of Rowe's (1962. where RA = RB = Rand e2 "'" £J for triaxial testing conditions. and is assumed here to be the critical state angle of friction. (6) Table 2. It is possible that a 0 critical state angle of almost 34-4 would have been reached on further straining. Aooles of friction and dilatanc\' of Hostun sand in the biaxial test (Ji:lmmad . his resulting equation can also be obtained without considering energy dissipation. This yields -E. The stress dilatancy theory starts with the expression for plane states of strain (3) D=R/K 0·0 where D = -e3/e" is the stress ratio 01103 and K is a coefficient representing the internal friction which may be expressed as K = lan' (45 deforms with further change of volume. Taking data for a cell pressure of 300 kN/m 2 • as was also done in tria"{ial testing..5-34. 0 Having obtained a peak friction angle of 40-42 for the dense sand and a maximum friction angle of 34-40 for the loose sand.147 FRICTION ANGLES AND DILATANCY OF SAND Table 1. degrees P• 10 • 0·95 IjIPs. but values tend to be lower for dense sands. as is now shown. as other studies.e.

Again the axial strain is considered to consist of an A mechanism in combination with Ez and a B mechanism that relates to the other principal strain E] (9) . the former should be used for dense sands and the laner is more appropriate for loose sands. where ¢f is taken to be the interparticle angle of friction.EI . \Vhen a ratio is computed.) 3 2 / / / Fig. In fact the plot zig-zags around such lines. which leads to the above results. The value of the angle ." //<1"='9.148 ---------- SCHANZ AND VERMEER 6 / / / / 4 2 Kev (¢ev = 34'4°) . Accordingly to Rowe (1971).-'1·5. Nearly straight lines that pass through the origin. the differences between the resulting lines is small and an average value would be adequate for most practical purposes. 6. 5. two localized sliding motions in shear bands. the concept of a dilatancy angle can be extended to include triaxial test conditions. the definition is given in several textbooks and by Bolton (1986) . Analogously to the extension of the stress-dilatancy theory.--. In the present derivation.. as the strain ratio D is computed from very small increments of strain. as noted by Rowe (1962). and also for K ev .E) (8) The first minus sign should be omitted when contractive strains are considered positive.!-_L-_-----1 o 0'5 1 D =-2E:/t.e.. Triaxial test data are now considered for this purpose. ANGLE OF DILATANCY The angle of dilatancy is first examined in plane strain situations and its definition is then extended to include triaxial compression. In Figs 6 and 7 lines are plotted for K/.. small errors tend to have large consequences.d-_ _+ o 0'5 1 __-. Note that the zig-zagging would vanish if D were computed from strain increments twice as large. Using equation (7) in the form R = KD." ". 5. Stress-diIatancy plot for dense Hostun sand (me:m values) ps £1 +£) = --. (7b) Hence the difference between the plane strain (equation (3)) and equation (7a) concerns a factor of two in the definition of D. 6 sm¢ 4 / / / Kev (¢ev . For plane strain conditions. R is plotted on the vertical axis and D is plotted on the horizontal axis. 7. where the critical state angle of friction is used. the idea of superposition is shown in Fig. Stress-dilatancy plot for loose Hostun sand or in short D=R/K (7a) D = -21: 3 /1:."J( "" ')1 / (Q =29°) II / 2 / / / / / / // / <- • o. The data for dense and loose Hostun sand are planed in Figs 6 and 7 in the expression for K has not yet been defined. When considering the peak dilatancy angle rates rather than mobilized pre-peak angles of dilatancy. i. but this does not change the idea of superposing an A~type mechanism and a B-type mechanism.. as suggested by the expression R = KD. are found. However. =34'4°) " / / / " .-__--!2 D= -'id~ Fig.. Deviation of triaxial dilatancy from biaxial state oL ~/ _ _L-_ _L-. one should obviously use rates of strain as measured at and beyond peak stress ratios. 1·5 2 Fig. In reality much more diffuse pre-peak deformation patterns occur.L----.

Fig. This supports the finding that Ihe same dilatancy angle is measured in plane strain and triaxial tests. As the difference is relatively small. - tP~v ::::: 3/R ( 15) srrain~ where /R is a relative dilatancy and (12) The superscripts ps have been added to denote plane strain angles of friction. which is significantly different from the 34·5° found earlier for ¢~s. Combining equations (14) and (15) gives </>. relationships given by Bolton (1986) are now considered.. for dense Hostun sand it is found that tPr = 29°.sin ¢u sin tP r (13) This equation is the same as equation (12) except for the superscripts. However.149 FRJCTION ANGLES AND DILATANCY OF SAND _ D _ I . as this formula was derived using the plane strain equations (3) and (4). The plane strain definition (equation (3» for the dilatancy angle is formally equal to the triaxial definition (equation (11)). This is due to the fact that E2 vanishes for plane strain. This is confirmed by test data for Hostun sand. and Rowe reports a similar tendency for cPr. one might use Rowe's equation (equation (7» for tria."{ial tests with equation (11) to obtain tPr tPr sin tP ps . On combining the strcss-dilalancy equations (3) and (4) with the definition of the dilatancy angle in equation (11).sin rp DA . Instead of combining the plane strain equations (3) and (4) of the stress-<!ilalaDcy lheory wilh the definition of the dilatancy angle in equation (II). It was found that Q = 10 and R = 1 give the best fit for different sands. I + SIn rp (10) This yields for t/J the expression sin". Applying equation (II) to the triaxial test data in Figs 2 and 3. in that 4>~s = ¢CII.sin = I . For this reason. this theory needs to be supplemented for triaxial conditions of stress and strain in order to obtain a relationship bet\veen the friction angle and the dilatancy angle. there exists . Bolton (1986) presents numerous data to show Ihal bOlh tests yield the same peak ratio of ElllE l .iv/E. Indeed. There is a good deal of evidence for the validity of equation (17). giving Ell = El + E3. In triaxial tests one' tends to find smaller peak friction angles than in plane strain tests. but is a direct consequence of his findings.sin tP7 I . These values correspond extremely well to values measured in plane strain tests: Hammad (1991) rep0rls virtually identical values to those given in Table 2. Slllrp= Hence. as this angle is considered to be independent of testing conditions. It therefore appears that differences bet\veen friction angles disappear as looser . '" ¥3</>:' + 2</>. BOLTON'S FINDINGS FOR PEAK ANGLES Bolton (1986) assumes a unique critical state angle tPcv for both triaxial strain and plane strain. According to Rowe cP~s coincides with the critical state angle cPCII. a (peak) dilatancy angle of 14° is found for the dense Hostun sand and a vanishingly small value of about zero is obtained for the loose sand.I ROWE'S THEORY AND THE ANGLE OF DILATANCY The relationship between the dilalancy angle and the friction angle is also given by Bolton (1986). Bohon gives a large database which leads to the correlations for plane strain </>~' - </>~ '" 51. for triaxial index 10 = 10{Q -InUrn) - R (16) which relates density and the applied stress level. [t is concluded that Rowe's stress dilatancy theory exhibits an appealing relationship bet\vcen the friction angle and the dilatancy angle for planar deformation.B . Hence the latter equation is valid for both test conditions. more or less uniquely defined angle ¢f Ps which corresponds well with the critical state angle. = tv/E. If the data in Table 2 are used to compute cP~5 from equation (12).sin tP ps sin sin tP tr . it is found that Sill rp .") (17) Equation (17) is not mentioned directly by Bolton. . and plane strain angles of friction tend to be larger than friction angles measured in triaxial teSIS. which mean that these angles have to be measured in triaxial tests instead of plane strain tests.I (II) 2 . 8 provides data from additional sources. I a superscript is used to denote the dilatancy angle. A more formal deriyation based on concepts of the theory of plasticity is given by Vermeer & de Borst (1984). (14) tP. and so equation (3) reduces to equation (11). the dense sand yields tP~s = 36° and the loose sand yields tP~s = 34·5°. a definition has been derived for the dilatancy angle that can be used to measure this angle in triaxial compression testing..

Considering data from Hostun sand.. & Khayatt. (1984). Oesrues.':- 40 tis p: degrees ___:' states are considered.. L. La localisation de fa defom/Q(. Combining equations (II) and (18) gives . No. In contrast to the angle of dilatancy. Oesrues.ial strain and plane strains are compared. Therefore it is often suggested that friction angles are strain-dependent for both loose and dense sands. Flavigny of the Instirut de Mecanique de Grenoble for discussion on the triaxial testing tcchnique. Georedlfliquf! 16. Incremental strain rate ratios and strength of sand in the tria. the present authors do not agree. Georeclmiqlle 36. There is linear relationship between angles of ma. The extended theory is validated by the fael that data from plane strain and triaxial strain conditions yield the same angle of dilatancy at least near and beyond peak. There arc a lot of true triaxial data to confirm the former... Georeclmiqlle 16. but looser samples give envelopes according to Mohr-Coulomb. 193. o Hoslun sand (loose) " . M. Cornforth.. Considering results from Bolton and the additional data of Fig.. This has implications for the form of the limiting envelope for slates of stress in principal stress space. . as this angle was related to the above rate of dilation. as by Bolton (1986) and other researchers. Another finding by Bolton is that the rate of dilation is srrain-independent.. (1986). It is found for both triaxial strain and biaxial strain that (18) This suppons the idea of a unique angle of dilatancy.u. 30 "---_ _. H. . L. 6·7 + [.. 65-78. Colliat·Oangus. axial stress OJ radial stress 1'". Bohon. NOTATION D diameter e void ratio Em membrane thickness H height 10 dilatancy index I R rel:ltive dil:ltancy index K internal friction coefficient R stress ratio (ol/oJ) to membrane thickness !::J. P. critical state friction angle 1'p peak friction angle V'p angle of dilatancy REFERENCES Barden. no such difference is observed. J. J. & Foray.ial resting of soil ami . This yields an extended definition for the angle of dilatancy which applies to triaxial testing conditions as well as plane strain condi- ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS The authors are indebted to Dr 1. A. In Advanced tr. . Institut de Mecanique de Grenoble. 338-357. Desrues and Dr E.res. 1.150 SCHANZ AND VERMEER 50 o Cornforth (1964) A leussink e/af.'(lmum friction for both conditions (equation (19) CONCLUSIONS From the results prcsented. o . 8. ~ -. This difference basically depends on the critical state friction angle. and for their biaxial testing data on Hosrun sand. the following conclusions can be drawn concerning the angles of friction and dilatancy of sand.~ial test. D. (1988). O.Ollx grcwlIfu. but few true triaxial tests have been performed on loose sand.. [.r bedding error EJ radial strain p density 00 b:lck-pressure a. ~ . OSc thesis. 2 + 0·3[. J. As yet it is not fully clear whelher or not plane strain conditions yield slightly higher critical state angles than triaxial strain conditions. The strength and dilatancy of sands. For dense sJrnples the plane strain friction is well above the Mohr-Coulomb prediction. (1966) <> Hostun sand (dense) . friction angles differ considerably when tria.. Maximum strength under pl:me strain and triaxial strain smllJ= tions. Some experiments on the influence of strain conditions on the strength of sand. (1966). (1964)..on dUllS fes muter. I. (17». Triaxial testing of granular soil under elevated cell pressure. 0·3[. 8. By using concepts of superposition it is possible to relate the angle of dilatancy to triaxial strain conditions. ~ Fig.. Equation (17) .

(1984).'( dans dcll. H. D. M. Non-associaled plasticity for soils. & de Borst.3. 1. Rotterdam: Balkema. R. TH Frideric Karlsnlhe. 67-70.{ laboratoires. The behaviour of sand at low stress levels ill the simple-shear apparatus. Results of the international workshop on constitutive relations for soils. P. P. (1984). P. A. M.. le sable d'Hostun RF. 1-2. Bodenmech. Theoretical meaning and observed values of deforrnalion parameters for soil. 53. The influence of strains in soil mechanics. (1991). Lade. Geotechniqlle 20. Rowe. Wittke. Horodecki. leussink. Rowe.. W. Philadelphia: American Society for Testing and Materials. Venneer. P. VeriiJJ. Proceed· ings of Roscoe Memorial Symposium.FRICTION ANGLES AND DILATANCY OF SAND rock. (1991). Unterschiede im Scherverhahen rolliger Erdstoffe und Kugelschiittungen im Dreiaxial· und Biaxial· versuch. M. Illst. B.2. & Balachowski. W. H. E. pp. (1970). (I991). Modelisation non lineaire et erude experimentale des bandcs de cisaillement dans les sable. 50D-527. (1990). University of Cambridge. Desrues. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Goldscheider. 522-526. & Weseloh. (1962). K. 38. Rev. Flavigny. Y. J. G. Can. 151 Roscoe.. A269. Geotech. M. Dissertation. Hadj·Sadok. Series repetives d'essais tria. (1982). Archwm Hydrotech.. I. 290-310. Proc. Soc. STP977. 29. W. 1154. Fr.. The stTess-diiatancy relation for static equilibrium of an assembly of particles in contact. The strength and dilatancy of sand. R. (1971). 129-170. E. pp. DSc thesis. No. Stroud. No. S. Mechanics of engineering materials (edited by C. InstiNt de Mecanique de Grenoble. W. P. Desai). 21.. & Sasitharan.. K. L. Chichester: Wiley. V. Hammad. S. Felsmech. Heron 29. (1990). Soil behaviour and critical stare soil mechanics. Henley-on·Thames: Foulis. A. (1966). pp. concrete and rock. No. Vaid. Wood. 143-194. & Palayer.'(iau. . (1971). Flavigny. Geotech.