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Terzaghi Article 17

In most engineering problems only the resistance to shear requires consideration such as:
stability of foundations and slopes. The stress-strain properties for soils are determined by lab
tests on undisturbed sample subjected to initial stresses and subsequent stress changes
simulating those in the field. All these tests are conducted in two steps. In the first step, an initial
stress is applied to the specimen preferably similar to the preconstruction field condition. The
second step simulates the construction-related process subjecting the soil to changes in shear
stresses. If drainage is permitted in the first step, then it is called consolidated step, and if not
then it is called unconsolidated step. During second step, if the specimen is able to experience
volume change throughout the shearing process, the step is called drained, and if no volume
change is allowed then it is undrained second step. Drained tests are carried out on soils that in
the field respond in drained behavior to shearing process as: granular soils, stiff clays and shales.
Undrained tests are used for soft clays and for dynamic cyclic shearing of saturated loose sands.
Drained condition is achieved by applying shear stresses at such a rate that allows volume
changes to occur with development of excess pore water pressure (pwp). In undrained tests, the
imposed shearing rates are standard rates that allow measurement of undrained stress-strain
properties and undrained strength as these properties are dependent on the shearing rate. If the
shear-induced pwp in undrained tests is going to be measured, the shearing rate must allow the
complete pwp equalization.
Triaxial Test: In the first step, an equal all-around pressure is applied which is known as cell
pressure, or an axial stress is applied greater than the radial stress. In the second step, axial
stress is applied as positive (Triaxial compression) or negative (Triaxial Extension). This test is
widely used for investigating the shear strength of soils but its applicability to certain type of
problems is restricted and it is a relatively expensive test.
Unconfined Compression Test: A vertical load is applied incrementally on a cylindrical sample
to produce a vertical strain of about 1 to 2% per minute. The unconfined compressive strength
is the stress at which failure occurs, or at which the axial strain reaches 20% if no failure occurs.
It is widely used to determine the consistency of saturated clays and other cohesive soils.
Direct Shear Test: It is most suitable for consolidated-drained tests as drainage is not readily
controlled. The shearing resistance after large displacement can be measured by using the
reversing direct shear method. This test has several disadvantages as: the change in area of
sliding surface during the test, the non-uniform stresses over the sliding surface, and the peak
value of shearing resistance indicated by the test is lower than the real peak value.
Direct Simple Shear Test: Most suitable for undrained tests of soft clays and silts. The cyclic
direct simple shear test has been used to investigate liquefaction properties of loose sands.
Torsional Ring Shear Test: It permits shear stress measurements over unlimited displacements.
It is mainly suited for drained shear tests and the measurement of the residual shear strength
of clays and shales. Its only advantage over direct shear test is the interrupted shear
displacement of any magnitude can be achieved on the horizontal slip surface. Same
disadvantages of direct shear test plus the complexity of the specimen preparation.
Plain Strain Triaxial Test: It is complex and is not well suited to routine investigation, but the
results are useful in modifying the strength obtained from the conventional symmetrical triaxial
test to plane strain situations in the field.