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Terzaghi Article 18

Shearing resistance of soils is the result of resistance to tangential or sliding movement at

interparticle contacts developed due to bonds at contact areas and particles interlocking. The
main bond is the primary valence bond and it develops in response to the effective normal
stress in the particles assemblage (physical nature). Other bonds may also contribute to
resistance as chemical bonds or cementation. All these bonds increase with increasing the
contact area (i.e., increasing the effective stress). Increased density implies an increase in
shearing resistance however a unique relationship between density and resistance is not
expected for soils of different composition. The rate of increase of frictional resistance with
effective normal stress is expressed as the angle of friction () which decreases as the normal
stress increases. An increase in effective stress produces an increase in physical bonding and
vice versa while an increase or decrease in effective stress leads to breakage of chemical bonds.
If water can leave or enter the soil so a change of volume may occur but if that is not possible
the porewater pressure (pwp) change produces a change in effective stress. In lab tests,
drainage can be controlled. In field, granular soils generally reach failure under drained
conditions except for very loose sands that can liquefy under undrained condition. Soft clays
tend to fail under undrained conditions however in stiff clays failure usually takes place under
drained conditions.
In CD TC tests on loose and dense saturated sand specimens, for both the major principal stress
increased to a max then decreased and leveled off at an ultimate value which is called fullysoftened strength at which volume increase levels off (Dense specimen resulted in higher max
and ultimate stress values). The loose sample experienced large compression followed by a
volume increase with net volume decrease whereas the dense sample, after a small decrease
in volume, dilated strongly with a net volume increase. When TC drained tests were carried out
on saturated rock fill samples, the same results were obtained where the sample sheared under
low confining pressure behaved as dense sand and that one sheared at high confining pressure
experienced similar behavior to that of loose sand specimen. Drained TC tests on stiff clay
showed that the behavior of highly OCC is qualitatively similar to that of dense sand and the
behavior of NCC is similar to loose sand. The only difference between dense sand and OCC is
that in dense sands the max dilation rate is achieved at maximum shear stress while in OCC the
dilation does not begin until the peak shear stress is reached due to breaking of interparticle
In CU TC tests on sand specimens of different relative densities, the loosest specimen
experienced liquefaction failure (a rapid increase in pwp and great loss of strength) while the
densest specimen showed a dilative response in which pwp reached max at low strains then it
started to decrease continuously as the strain is increased. In case of cyclic loading under same
conditions, the characteristics of stress-strain behavior was similar to that of the same sample
when subjected to motonic loading however the failure in case of cycling loading occurred at
lower axial strains and axial stress. When specimens were anisotropically consolidated, the
failure occurred by the undrained application of relatively low axial loads compared to that if
they were subjected to drained axial loading. Stiff clay experienced the same behavior in
undrained test as that of drained test where OCC exhibited positive pwp and then dilation
occurred and pwp became negative while NCC exhibited positive pwp which increase till peak

stress was reached. When very sensitive clay samples were anisotropically consolidated then
tested under undrained conditions by compression and extension, the undrained shear
strength in TE was less than that in TC due to breaking of interparticle bonds due reversal of
shear stress in TE and the decrease in effective stress. On the other hand, when the same clay
was tested by DSS, it experienced a peak shear stress between those resulted from TC and TE
but at much higher axial strains.
It is useful to examine the manner in which effective normal stress and the shear stress change
during mobilization of the shearing resistance (stress path to failure) and that requires the
selection of certain plane on which the stresses are to be presented. Observing the stress paths
for the plane of max shear stress for TC tests on loose sand specimens, the drained test shows
a continuous increase in effective normal stress to the max shear stress while there had been
a significant decrease in effective stress by the time max shear stress was reached. The stress
paths for the undrained tests show that the shear stress reach a max that is followed by a
decrease that may be followed then by an increase just before failure. Studying the stress paths
of similar samples subjected to anisotropic consolidation or drained shearing then the drains
are turned off, it is observed that soils can withstand higher shearing stresses under undrained
conditions. The magnitude of the increment of undrained shear stress that can be carried by
the sample depends on the shear-stress condition in the sample during the drained phase.
Studying the stress paths for three sand samples of different densities, it is observed that the
loosest sample (which experienced liquefaction failure) exhibited large decrease in effective
stress so that the sample could sustain a very low shear stress and the same happened in case
of subjecting the sample to undrained cyclic loading. The denser sample first exhibited the
same behavior of reduction in normal stress but then liquefaction was averted after max shear
stress by a decrease in pwp and thus increase in effective stress. The densest sample had the
tendency to dilate with a significant decrease in pwp and major increase in effective stress and
mobilized strength.
Considering the stress paths from undrained TC tests on stiff (highly OC) clay, the effective
normal stress either increased or remained constant. It is not generally possible to obtain a
continuous stress path for a highly OCC including peak, fully-softened and residual strength
conditions because TC test, which is commonly used for the measurement of peak strength, is
occasionally continued to the fully softened condition, and it is unsuitable for the measurement
of residual strength. On the other hand, highly sensitive clay samples were subjected to
undrained TC, TE and DSS tests. When the samples were consolidated at a pressure lower than
their Pc, the effective stress increases continuously in TC to max strength whereas during TE it
decreases with a higher peak strength in case of TC. DSS test gives peak strength between TC
and TE values. When the samples of the same clay were consolidated anisotropically at
pressures higher than their Pc, the effective stresses decrease significantly to the max shear
The undrained shear strength of soft clay is not a constant soil property and the mobilized
undrained shear strength depends on the orientation of the shear plane with respect to the
direction of deposition and consolidation, as well as on the mode of undrained shear. Although
in the DSS test only a shear stress is applied to the specimen, the effective normal stress
decreases because of the tendency of soft clay to consolidate during shear. Also the strain rate
has a significant effect on the undrained shear strength of soft clay.