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Proceedings ISC-2 on Geotechnical and Geophysical Site Characterization, Viana da Fonseca & Mayne (eds.

)
2004 Millpress, Rotterdam, ISBN 90 5966 009 9

Geotechnical site investigation of municipal solid waste landfills


D.A.F. Oliveira
Caixa Econmica Federal and University of Braslia, DF, Brazil

P. Murrieta
Environmental and Civil Engineering Department, University of Braslia, DF, Brazil

Keywords: municipal solid waste fills, mechanical behaviour, CPTU, SPT, PLT
ABSTRACT: In the actual stage of waste mechanics, conventional methods of soil mechanics are used.
This paper discusses lessons learned in investigation of municipal solid waste landfills using standard
penetration tests (SPT), cone penetration tests with pore pressure measurements (CPTU) and plate loading
tests (PLT). The results are analyzed and compared to existing documents on properties of refuse. As main
conclusion it was possible to use common in situ tests of classical geotechnics like SPT, CPTU and PLT to
evaluate, in qualitative terms, some behaviours, even with all difficulties that the material imposes
1 INTRODUCTION

Questions about municipal refuse safety disposal


and the need for increased landfill capacity due to
the declining of available new sites, have been
leading many researchers to study the mechanical
behaviour of municipal solid waste landfills
(MSWL).
The quantification of mechanical properties of
this material faces two major problems: the first is
that it is an unusual kind of material with a complex
structure with large heterogeneity that geotechnical
engineering may not have appropriate equipment to
deal with and the second one is that it is a
degradable material with properties that may change
with time. It is also an unusual topic in classical
geotechnics.
In classical geotechnics three approaches have
been used to evaluate refuse properties: laboratory
testing, back calculation of field test and operational
records and in situ testing. Trying to avoid problems
of sample representatively, some authors have been
making efforts to obtain data using the two last
approaches.
Due the inexistence of appropriate methods, in
the actual stage of waste mechanics, conventional
methods of soil mechanics are still acceptable.
This paper discusses lessons learned in
investigation of different municipal solid waste
landfills using standard penetration tests (SPT), cone
penetration tests with pore pressure measuring
(CPTU) and plate loading tests (PLT).

Two landfills were investigated using standard


penetration tests. One was Brasilias (DF-Distrito
Federal-Brazil) sanitary landfill and the other was
Salvadors (Bahia-Brazil) sanitary landfill called
AMC.
The tests performed in Brasilias landfill were
executed in four experimental cells with different
accelerated degradation systems. Besides evaluating
mechanical resistance of the deposited material,
these tests were also done at different times (date
format dd/mm/yy) trying to verify the influence of
degradation on penetration resistance.
Due to the limited depth of these cells,
approximately 3,50m, the tests were stopped at
maximums depth of 3,00m to avoid reaching the
foundation drainage system. For the same reason the
number of blows was counted continuously at every
0,15m. The SPT value (N) was adopted as the sum
of the last 0,30m at every 0,45m tested. Figures 1
and 2 show the results of these tests.
The test performed in AMC was done to identify
soil layers and also evaluate the mechanical
resistance of the waste fill. In this case the blow
number was counted at every 0,15m for the last
0,45m at every 1,00m depth. The SPT value adopted
was also the sum of the last 0,30m at every 0,45m
tested. Figure 3 shows the SPT results done in AMC.
Only for the AMC test a soil layer could be
identified in a 15m depth.
Due the erratic behaviour refuse no energy
correction was performed. In both cases a tendency

STANDARD PENATRATION TEST (SPT)

1325

of increase of blow number with depth can be


verified, probably influenced by vertical stresses.
For the tests performed in the experimental cells
the average value of blow number varies between 3
and 8. For the AMC test the average value of blow
number is 11, excluding numbers greater than 20
that is probably the result of a rigid object.
Cell I

proposed by these authors, probably is result of the


good field compaction that imposes unit weight
greater than 10kN/m3 and vertical stresses at depth.
Using the average SPT values and classical
cohesionless soils correlations, considering that
currently no one better was proposed, values of
friction angle between 31 and 36 are obtained.

Cell II

Blow number
0

Blow number
10 15

0
0,0

0,5

0,5

1,0

1,0

1,5
2,0

10 15

2,0

8,0
10,0
12,0
14,0
16,0
18,0

Nf (06/02/01)

Nf (26/04/00) F02

Figure 1. SPT results variations for cells I and II.


Cell III

Blow number
0

5 10 15 20
0,0

0,5

0,5

1,0

1,0

Depth (m) -

0,0

1,5
2,0

Figure 3. SPT performed on AMC landfill.

Cell IV

Blow number
0

Nf (14/11/01)

Nf (19/09/01)

Nf (19/09/01)

Depth (m) -

50

6,0

1,5

Nf (06/02/01)

5 10 15

1,5

These friction angle values are in accordance to the


recommended range of shear strength parameters
proposed by Singh and Murphy (1990).
Due the large heterogeneity of the material it was
not possible to verify any behaviour tendency of
variation with time of penetration resistance. For
Cell I the medium SPT value reduced from 8 in
April 2000 to 6 in September 2001. For Cells II and
IV the values increased from 6 to 8 and 3 to 5,
respectively, from February 2001 to September
2001. And for Cell III the medium SPT value was
the same for this period.

2,0

2,5

2,5

3,0

3,0

Nf (07/02/01)

Nf (07/02/01)

Nf (19/09/01)

Nf (19/09/01)

Figure 2. SPT results variations for cells III and IV.

According to Juc et al. (1997) SPT values up to


10 are generally obtained. The average value
obtained for the AMC test, is greater than this value
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40

4,0

3,0

3,0

30

2,0

2,5

2,5

20

0,0

Depth (m) -

0,0

Depth (m) -

Depth (m) -

Blow number

10

CONE PENETRATION TEST WITH PORE


PRESSURE MEASUREMENT (CPTU)

Three CPTU tests were done in AMC landfill. The


results are shown in figures 4, 5 and 6.
Due the possibility of negative measurements, all
tests begin with a 100kPa pore pressure value
(backsaturation). The first 0,50m measurements
refer to a soil cover.
As could be seen in figures 4, 5 and 6, rigid
objects were frequently found, resulting in tip
resistance peaks.

2004 Millpress, Rotterdam, ISBN 90 5966 009 9

Tip resistance
qc (MPa)
0.0
0.0

4.0

8.0

Friction Sleeve
fs (kPa)
12.0

70.0

140.0

Pore Pressure
u (kPa)
210.0

70.0

140.0

Friction Ratio (%)


210.0

7.0

14.0

1.0
2.0

Depth (m)

3.0
4.0
5.0
6.0
7.0
8.0
9.0
10.0

Figure 4. CPTU01 results

Depth (m)

Tip resistance
qc (MPa)
0.0
1.0
2.0
3.0
4.0
5.0
6.0
7.0
8.0
9.0
10.0
11.0
12.0
13.0
14.0
15.0
16.0

18

27

36

Friction Sleeve
fs (kPa)
45

100 200 300 400 500

Pore Pressure
u (kPa)
70

140

Friction Ratio (%)


210

20

40

60

80

Figure 5. CPTU02 results


Tip resistance
qc (MPa)
0.0

8 10 12 14 16

Friction Sleeve
fs (kPa)
50

100 150 200 250

Pore Pressure
u (kPa)
70

140

Friction Ratio (%)


210

10

15

20

25

30

1.0
2.0
3.0

Depth (m)

4.0
5.0
6.0
7.0
8.0
9.0
10.0
11.0

Figure 6. CPTU03 results

Proceedings ISC2 on Geotechnical and Geophysical Site Characterization, Viana da Fonseca & Mayne (eds.)

1327

Tip resistance
qc (Mpa)

In almost all cases it could be verified a slight


tendency of increase with depth of tip resistance,
friction sleeve and pore pressure. It wasnt verified
only for CPTU02 for depths greater than 10,25m,
because of a very high tip resistance peak (43Mpa),
that probably had interfered in the last measurements.
Due the high permeability of municipal refuse
drained analysis was carried out.
The mediums values of tip resistance for
CPTU01, CPTU02 and CPTU03, excluding peaks,
are 2920kPa, 3560kPa and 3200kPa respectively.
The mediums values of friction ratio are 2,40%,
2,10% and 2,63% respectively.
Oliveira (2002) plotted these values in
Schmertmann chart and observed that municipal
refuse behaviour indicates classifications as clayey
sands, sands and silts.
In the same way as done in SPT tests, using
medium values of tip resistance and cohesionless
soils correlations, friction angles between 27 and
38 are obtained.
These values of friction angle are also in
accordance with the range proposed by Singh and
Murphy (1990) and very close to the values obtained
by Carvalho (1999) in CPT tests in Bandeirantes
Sanitary Landfill (So Paulo, Brazil).
No correlation between the SPT (AMC) values
and CPTU03 (CPTU nearest SPT-AMC) tendency
line values could be established (figure 7).
6,0
5,0
4,0
3,0
2,0
1,0
0,0

y = 0,276x
2

R = -79,141

0
Regres sion

10
20
Blow number - N (SPT)

30

Figure 7. Correlation between SPT-AMC and CPT03.

For depths greater than 3,50m the increase of


pore pressure values is almost linear. This increase is
probably influenced by both leachate and gas pore
pressure. The level of leachate in the waste fill could
be verified in a test pit in a 4,50m depth. The use of
this measurement in CPT tests can give in
qualitative terms some idea of pore pressure level in
the waste fill.
4

PLATE LOADING TEST (PLT)

Residential Sector of So Sebastio city (Distrito


Federal, Brazil). This waste fill will be called in this
paper as DF landfill.
These two tests were performed trying to evaluate
the bearing capacity and verify the stress vs.
deformation behaviour.
Comparison of results of the two tests was done
only in qualitative terms because of the differences
between the two refuses, like the composition, age,
degradation stage, etc and the different tests
methodology adopted.
The plate used in the tests executed in AMC was
0,80m diameter, directly founded on refuse (without
any soil cover) and because of the long time that
settlements takes to stabilize and considering that
this is a sanitary landfill still in operation, these tests
were performed in accordance to ASTM D1196
method (Standard method for non repetitive static
plate load test of soil in flexible pavements).
For the tests executed in the DF landfill, also
directly on the refuse (without any soil cover), a
0,60m diameter plate was used. As this landfill is no
more in operation, the consideration of load
stabilisation for the DF test called PLTCL was the
smaller value between the necessary time to obtain a
settlement ratio (difference between consecutive
settlement reads divided by total settlement in
current load stage) less than 5% or 30 minutes. For
the DF test called PLTCR the consideration of load
stabilisation was 8min for loading stage and 5min
for unloading stage. The PLTCR was performed
immediately after the PLTCL and in the same place.
Figures 8 and 9 show the results plotted in natural
scale of these tests.
In both cases the load vs. settlement curves were
almost linear which turned impossible evaluation of
the ultimate capacity load with this scale, except for
the test called PLTCR which is considered a quick
test. The quick test makes possible to reach greater
loads because the settlements dont have sufficient
time to stabilize.
Trying to establish more clearly the ultimate
loads for all tests, the results were plotted in semilogarithm graphics as shown in figure 10 and 11.
For the tests performed in AMC landfill, even
using semi-logarithm scale, it is very difficult to
identify clearly its ultimate load. This is a result of
the high compressibility of young municipal refuses
(less than 2 years) that imposes a linear load vs.
settlement behaviour. In spite of it, a slight increase
of curve inclination can be verified at 39kN load.
For the DF tests it could be observed that for
loads greater than 78kN the rupture process of the
material is increased.
These ultimate loads (39kN and 78kN) result, for
each plate diameter and a factor of safety equal 3, in
26kPa and 92kPa bearing capacity stresses.

Two tests were done in AMC Sanitary Landfill


(Salvador, Bahia, Brazil) and two other in the West
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2004 Millpress, Rotterdam, ISBN 90 5966 009 9

Load (kN)
0

40

80

120
PLT02

40

PLT03

80

50%

Settlement ratio

Settlement (mm)

These values, allied to the settlement ratios


verified in the tests (showed in figures 12, 13 and
14) disallow the use of shallow foundations directly
founded on this refuses.

120
160
200

39kN

30%

59kN

20%

78kN

10%

98kN

0%

240

Figure 8. PLT02 and PLT03 (AMC tests) results in natural


scale.

40

80

120

20
40
60
80
Loa d Time (min)

100

Figure 12. PLT02 settlements ratio

Load (kN)
0

160

200

Settlement ratio

Settlement (mm)

19kN

40%

PLTCL

10

PLTCR

20
30

40%
19kN

30%

39kN

20%

59kN
78kN

10%

98kN

0%

40

50

20

40

60

80

100

Load time (min)

60

Figure 9. PLTCL and PLTCR (DF tests) results in natural


scale.

Figure 13. PLT03 settlements ratio

Settlement (mm)

10.00
0

Settlement ratio

Load (kN)
100.00

40
80
120

PLT02

160

70%
60%
50%
40%
30%
20%
10%
0%

137kN

54kN

41kN

27kN

PLT03

200

100
200
Load time (min)

300

Figure 14. PLCR and PLTCL settlements ratios

240

Figure 10. PLT02 and PLT03 (AMC tests) results in logarithm


scale.

Load (kN)
1

10

100

Settlement (mm)

0
10
20
30

PLTCL

40

PLTCR

50
60

Figure 11. PLTCL and PLTCR (DF tests) results in logarithm


scale.

The engineering practices indicate that with


settlements ratios smaller than 5% the buildings
presents no foundation problems. For all tests this
ratios were greater than 5%. In AMC case these
ratios vary between 15% and 20% and in the DF
case are near 10%. More analysis of these PLT tests
can be found on Oliveira et al. (2003)
In this regard the use of these bearing capacities
obtained imposes elevated risks.
5

CONCLUSIONS

The use of conventional methods (SPT, CPTU, PLT)


of site investigation in municipal solid waste
landfills could be verified, even all difficult that the
material imposes, like rigid object, etc. These tests

Proceedings ISC2 on Geotechnical and Geophysical Site Characterization, Viana da Fonseca & Mayne (eds.)

1329

can give qualitative data about the mechanical


behaviour of the waste fill.
Both in SPT tests as in CPTU tests increases of
mechanical resistance in depth (blow number, tip
resistance, sleeve friction) could be verified. It can
indicate the influence of vertical tension stresses in
densification of the material.
All values of friction angles obtained by
cohesionless correlations were in accordance to
range of shear parameters recommended in
literature.
The values of friction angle obtained and the
Schmertmann chart classification indicates that
refuses has also frictional behaviour.
Because of the complexity structure of the
material and large heterogeneity it was not possible
to verify any variation with time of penetration
resistance using SPT test.
The values of pore pressure obtained indicate that
the material has not a completely drained behaviour.
The large deformations observed in PLT tests, the
large settlement rates and the impossibility to verify
clearly the failure load induces the adoption of low
bearing capacities that disallow the use of shallow
foundations directly founded on refuses.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
Special thanks to LIMPURB (Salvador/Bahia/
Brazil), VEGA Environmental Engineering S.A.,
LCL Consulting and Engineering Ltda., JSE
Foundations Ltda. and Environmental Geotechnics
Laboratory and Geotechnics Laboratory of Federal
University of Bahia.
REFERENCES
Carvalho, M.F. Mechanical Behaviour of Municipal Solid
Waste. Doctorate thesis - Escola de Engenharia de So
Carlos, Universidade de So Paulo, So Paulo, Brazil,
1999: 300p.
Juc, J.F.; Cabral, J.J.P.S; Monteiro, V.E.D; Santos, S.M. &
Perrier Jr., G.S. Geotechnics of a Municipal Solid Waste
Landfill in Recife, Brazil. Proceedings of Recent
Developments in Soil and Pavement Mechanics, Almeida
(ed), Balkema, Rotterdam, ISBN9054108851,1997: p.429436
Oliveira, D.A.F. Slope stability of Municipal Solid Waste
Landfills. Master Dissertation, Environmental and Civil
Department, University of Braslia, Distrito Federal, Brazil,
2002: 155p.
Oliveira, D.A.F; Passos, P.G.O; Camapum de Carvalho, J.;
Cunha, R.P. 2003. Bearing capacity of solid waste fills.
Proceedings of V Brazilian Conference on Environmental
Geotechnics, REGEO2003, March 23-26, Porto Alegre,
Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, 2003: 8p.
Singh, S.; Murphy, B. J. Evaluation of Slope Stability of
Sanitary Landfills. Geotechnics of Waste Fills - Theory and
Practice, ASTM STP 1070, Arvid Landva, G. David
Knowles, (ed), American Society for Testing and Materials,
Philadelphia, 1990, p.240 - 258.
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2004 Millpress, Rotterdam, ISBN 90 5966 009 9