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# NPTEL- Advanced Geotechnical Engineering

Module 5
CONSOLIDATION (Lectures 27 to 34)

Topics
1.1 FUNDAMENTS OF CONSOLIDATION
1.1.1 General Concepts of One-dimensional Consolidation
1.1.2 Theory of One-Dimensional Consolidation
1.1.3 Relations of and for Other Forms of Initial Excess Pore Water
Pressure Distribution
1.1.4 Numerical Solution for One-Dimensional Consolidation

## 1.1.5 Degree of Consolidation under Time-Dependent Loading

1.1.6 Standard One-Dimensional Consolidation Test and Interpretation
1.1.7 Preconsolidation pressure.

Compression index

## 1.1.8 Calculation of one-dimensional consolidation settlement

1.1.9 Calculation of coefficient of consolidation from laboratory test results

Logarithm-of-time method

Square-root-of-time method

## 1.1.10 Secondary Consolidation

1.1.11 Constant Rate-of-Strain consolidation Tests

Coefficient of consolidation

## 1.2 CONSOLIDATON BY SAND DRAINS

Dept. of Civil Engg. Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur

## 1.2.1 Sand Drains

1.2.2 Free-Strain Consolidation with no Smear
1.2.3 Equal-Strain Consolidation with no Smear
1.2.4 Effect of Smear Zone on Radial Consolidation
1.2.5 Calculation of the Degree of Consolidation with Vertical and Radial
Drainage
1.2.6 Numerical Solution for Radial Drainage

PROBLEMS

## NPTEL- Advanced Geotechnical Engineering

Chapter 5
Lecture 27
Consolidation-1
Topics
1.1 FUNDAMENTS OF CONSOLIDATION
1.1.1 General Concepts of One-dimensional Consolidation
1.1.2 Theory of One-Dimensional Consolidation
According to Terzaghi (1943), a decrease of water content of a saturated soil without replacement of the
water by air is called a process of consolidation. When saturated clayey soils-which have a low coefficient
of permeability-are subjected to a compressive stress due to a foundation loading, the ore water pressure will
immediately increase; however, due to the low permeability of the soil, there will be a time lag between the
application of load and the extrusion of the pore water and, thus, the settlement. This phenomenon is the
subject of discussion of this chapter.

## 1.1 FUNDAMENTS OF CONSOLIDATION

1.1.1 General Concepts of One-dimensional Consolidation
To understand the basic concepts of consolidation, consider a clay layer of thickness located below the
groundwater level and between two highly permeable sand layers as shown in figure 1. If a surcharge of
intensity is applied at the ground surface over a very large area, the pore water pressure in the clay layer
will increase. For a surcharge of infinite extent, the immediate increase of the pore water pressure, , at all
depths of the clay layer will be equal to the increase of the total stress, . Thus, immediately after the
application of the surcharge.

## NPTEL- Advanced Geotechnical Engineering

Figure 1

=
Since the total stress is equal to the sum of the effective stress and the pore water pressure at all depth soft
the clay layer the increase of effective stress due to the surcharge (immediately after application) will be
equal to zero (i.e., = 0, where is the increase of the effective stress). In other words, at time t = 0,
the entire stress increase at all depths of the clay is taken by the pore water pressure and none b y the soil
skeleton. This is shown in figure 2a. (It must be pointed out that, for loads applied over a limited area, it
may to be true that the increase of the pore water pressure is equal to the increase of vertical stress at any
depth at time t = 0.

Figure 2 Change of pore water pressure and effective stress in the clay layer
shown in figure 1 due to the surcharge
Dept. of Civil Engg. Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur

## NPTEL- Advanced Geotechnical Engineering

After application of the surcharge (i.e., at time > 0), the water in the void spaces of the clay layer will be
squeezed out and will flow toward both the highly permeable sand layers, thereby reducing the excess pore
water pressure. This, in turn, will increase the effective stress by an amount since + = . Thus, at
time > 0,
> 0
And <
This fact is shown in figure 2b.
Theoretically, at time = , the excess pore water pressure at all depths of the clay layer will be dissipated
by gradual drainage. Thus, at time = ,
=
And = 0
This shown in figure 2c.
This gradual process of increase of effective stress in the clay layer due to the surcharge will result in a
settlement which is time-dependent and is referred to as the process of consolidation.

## 1.1.2 Theory of One-Dimensional Consolidation

The theory for the time rate of one-dimensional consolidation was first proposed by Terzaghi (1925). The
underlying assumption in the derivation of the mathematical equations are as follows:

## Figure 3 Clay layer undergoing

consolidation
1. The clay layer is homogeneous.
2. The clay layer is saturated.
3. The compression of the soil layer is due to the change in volume only, which, in turn, is due to the
squeezing out of water from the void spaces.
4. Darcys law valid.
5. Deformation of soil occurs only in the direction of the load application.
6. The coefficient of consolidation [equation (15)] is constant during the consolidation.
Dept. of Civil Engg. Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur

## NPTEL- Advanced Geotechnical Engineering

With the above assumptions, let us consider a clay layer of thickness 1 as shown in figure 3. The layer is
located between two highly permeable sand layers. In this case of one-dimensional consolidation, the flow
of water into and out of the soil element is in one direction only, i.e., in the z direction. This means that
, , , are equal to zero, and thus the rate of low into and out of the soil element can be given
by:
+ = rate of change of volume of soil element

(1)

Where =

(2)

we obtain
2

2 =

(3)

## Where is the coefficient of permeability [k= ]. However,

(4)

where is the unit weight of water. Substitution of equation (4) and (3) and rearranging gives
2
2

(5)

During consolidation the rate of change of volume is equal to the rate of change of the void volume. So,

(6)

## Where is the volume of voids in the soil element. But

=

(7)

Where is the volume of soil solids in the element, which is constant, and is the void ratio. So,

= = 1+ =

1+

(8)

## Substituting the above relation into equation (5), we get

2
2

= 1+

(9)

The change in void ratio, , is due to the increase of effective stress; assuming that these are linearly
related, then
= ( )

(10)

2
2

= 1+
=

(12)

(13)
6

Or

(14)

## Where = coefficient of consolidation =

(15)

Equation (14) is the basic differential equation of Terzaghis consolidation theory and can be solved with
proper boundary conditions. To solve the equation, assume u to be the product of two functions, i.e., the
product of a function of z and a function of t, or
= ()
So,

(16)
= ()

And 2 = 2 = ()

(17)
(18)

## From equations (14), (17), and (18),

= () or
()
()

()

()

(19)

The right-hand side of equation (19) is a function of z only and is independent of t; the left-hand side of the
equation is a function of t only and is independent of z. therefore, they must be equal to a constant, say- 2 .
So,
= 2 ()

(20)

= 1 cos + 2 sin

(21)

## Where 1 and 2 are constants.

Again, the right-hand side of equation (19) may be written as
= 2 ()

(22)

= 3 exp
(2 )

(23)

## Where 3 is a constant. Combining equations (16), (21), and (23),

= (1 cos + 2 sin )3 exp
(2 )
= (4 cos + 5 sin )exp
( 2 )
(24)
Where 4 = 1 3 5 = 2 3 .
The constants in equation (24) can be evaluated from the boundary conditions, which are as follows:
1. At time = 0, = (initial excess pore water pressure at any depth).
Dept. of Civil Engg. Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur

## NPTEL- Advanced Geotechnical Engineering

2. = 0 = 0.
3. = 0 = = 2.
Note that H is the length of the longest drainage path. In this case, which is two-way drainage condition (top
and bottom of the clay layer), H is equal to half the total thickness of the clay layer, .
The second boundary condition dictates that 4 = 0, and from the third boundary condition we get
5 sin 2 = 0

2 =

Where n is an integer. From the above, a general solution of equation (24) can be in given the form
=

=
=1

2 2

(25)

## Where is the nondimensional time factor and is equal to / 2

To satisfy the first boundary condition, we must have the coefficients of such that
=
=1

(26)

1

(27)

## Combining equations (25) and (27),

=

= 1 2
=1

sin

2 2
4

(28)

So far we have not made any assumptions regarding the variation of with the depth of the clay layer.
Several possible types of variation for are considered below.

Constant with depth. if is constant with depth i.e., if = (figure 4) referring to equation
(28),

2
0
1

sin = 2 (1 cos )
2

So, =

= 2
=1

(1 cos )

2 2
4

(29)

## Figure 4 Initial excess pore water pressure-constant with depth (double

drainage)
Note that the term 1 cos in the above equation is zero for cases when n is even; therefore, u is also
zero. For the nonzero terms, it is convenient to substitute = 2 + 1, where m is an integer. So equation
(29) will no read
=

2
=
=0 (2 +1)

= 2
=0

[1 cos(2 + 1)]sin

(2m+1)z
2H

exp
(2 )

(2 +1)2 2
4

(30)

Where = 2 + 1 /2. At a given time, the degree of consolidation at any depth z is defined as
=
=

## initial excess pore water pressure

=1 = =

(31)

Where is the increase of effective stress at a depth z due to consolidation. From equations (30) and (31),
= 1

= 2
=0

exp
(2 )

(32)

Figure 5 shows the variation of with depth for various values of the non-dimensional time factor, ;
these curves are called isocrones.

## Figure 5 Variation of with / and

In most cases, however, we need to obtain the average degree of consolidation for the entire layer. This is
given by
=

(1/ ) 0 (1/ ) 0

(1/ ) 0

(33)

The average degree of consolidation is also the ratio of consolidation settlement at any time to maximum
consolidation settlement. Note, in this case, that = 2 = .
Combining equations (30) and (33),
= 1

= 2
=0 2

exp
(2 )

(34)

## Figure 6 gives the variation of . (also see table 1)

Figure 6 Variation of average degree of consolidation (for conditions given in figs. 4, 7, 8, and 9)
Terzaghi suggested the following equations for to approximate the values obtained from equation (34):

10

For = 0 53%:
For = 53 100%:

% 2

100

(35)

## = 1.78 0.933 [log 100 % ]

(36)

Sivaram and Swamee (1977) gave the following equation for varying from 0 to 100%:
%
100

(4 /)0.5

= [1+(4 /)2.8]0.179

(37)

(/4)( %/100)2

Or = [1(

(38)

5.6 0.357
%/100) ]

Equations (37) and (38) give an error in of less than 1% for 0%< < 90% and less than 3% for
90%< < 100%.
Table 1 Variation of [equation (34)
%
0
10
20
30
35
40
45
50
55

0
0.008
0.031
0.071
0.096
0.126
0.159
0.197
0.238

%
60
65
70
75
80
85
90
95
100

0.287
0.342
0.403
0.478
0.567
0.684
0.848
1.127

It must be pointed out that, if we have a situation of one-way drainage as shown in figure 7a and b,
equation (34) would still be valid. Note, however, that the length of the drainage path is equal to the total
thickness of the clay layer.

Figure 7 Initial excess pore pressure distribution-one way drainage, constant with depth
Dept. of Civil Engg. Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur

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## NPTEL- Advanced Geotechnical Engineering

Linear variation of . The linear variation of the initial excess pore water pressure, as shown in figure 8,
may be written as
= 1 2

(39)

## Substitution of the above relation for into equation (28) yields

Figure 8 linearly varying initial excess pore water pressure distribution-two-way drainage

## Figure 9 Sinusoidal initial excess pore water pressure distribution-two-way drainage

= 1 2
=1 0

1 2

2 2
4

(40)

The average degree of consolidation can be obtained by solving equations (40) and 33):
= 1

= 2
=0 2

exp
(2 )

12

## NPTEL- Advanced Geotechnical Engineering

This is identical to equation (34), which was for the case where the excess pore water pressure is constant
with depth, and so the same curves as given in figure 6 can be used.
Sinusoidal variation of . Sinusoidal variation (figure 9) can be represented by the equation

= 3 2

(41)

The solution for the average degree of consolidation for this type of excess pore water pressure distribution
is of the form
= 11

2
4

(42)

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