Geotechnics lab report

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Geotechnics lab report

© All Rights Reserved

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Introduction to Offshore Geotechnics

Stephen Gabriel McCann

Partners: Ali Mahboob Hamedany

Kuen-wei Wu

Instructor: Associate Professor Ross McAdam

1 Objective

First Objective

Perform unconsolidated, un-drained triaxial test at two confining pressures and water content mea-

surement. (as defined in 1.1)

Second Objective

Shear box testing of loose and densely packed sand and effect of soil density.

1.1 Definitions

Consolidation a decrease of water content of a saturated soil without replacement of the water by air is

called a process of consolidation. Terzaghi (1943)

Deviator Stress The difference between principal stresses (1 3 ) due to the axial load in excess of

applied confining pressure.

Critical State Shearing takes place at constant volume at the ultimate (or critical) state and is a funda-

mental property of soil.

2 Experimental Data

2.1 Shear Box Test

Leighton Buzzard sand dry, loose and dense states.

1

Shear box test unit used #2

Vertical hanger load 30 kg (test weight)

4.268 kg (hanger)

1.603 kg (swan neck yoke)

0.464 kg (load plate)

Kaolin clay unconsolidated and saturated.

#3 @200 kPa

Cell pressure (test 1) 100 kPa

Cell pressure (test 2) 200 kPa

Plastic Limit (wP L ) 34%

Liquid Limit (wLL ) 65%

3 Formulas

dy

Angle of Dilation: max = tan1 ( )max (1)

dx

Axial Effective Stress: 1 = 3 + q (2)

Bolton Predicted Friction: peak = cs + 0.8max (3)

P

Corrected Deviator Stress: q= (1 ) (4)

A0

Failure Shear Stress: f.cs = n tancs (6)

w wP L

Liquidity Index: IL = (7)

wLL wP L

m 2 m3

Moisture Content: w= (8)

m 3 m1

f.peak

Peak Friction Angle: peak = tan1 ( ) (9)

n

Peak Predicted Friction: peak = cs + max (10)

Peak Shear Strength: f = c + n tan (11)

2

1

Undrained Shear Strength: Su = (1 3 ) (12)

2

4 Results

4.1 Shear Box Testing

Both the loose and dense tests were completed on machine #2. Figure 2 on page 5 displays both the shear

(max ) over horizontal displacement (H) and vertical (V ) over horizontal displacement (H) results graph-

ically. The two graphs have the same horizontal scaling and align for ease of interpretation. Both of the tests

came with force data which had variation (scatter) which was cleaned up using a regression in MATLAB to

facilitate better graphs, using the polyfit and polyval functions to show their similar failure modes as shown

in Figure 2 on page 5.

The upper graph indicates the horizontal displacement for peak shear stress (max ) on both specimens, indi-

cated by vertical lines in magenta and cyan. This is translated to the lower graph to indicate the point where

the maximum distillation (max ) was calculated for each of the two specimens; indicated by the tangential

(slope) lines at each intersection point.

The upper graph indicates where peak friction angle (peak ) was for each of the two specimens. Also shown

in the upper graph is where the critical state friction angle (cs ) point lay at minimum point of the two

shear curves after peak shear. Ideally these should converge but there will be some inconsistencies in the

experiment as the quality of results are very much determined by the skill level of the testing apparatus

operator.

3

Sample Loose Dense

Critical State Friction Angle6 ( ) 34.7

Normal Force (N) 356.4

Normal Stress (kN/m2 ) 99.0

Density ()(g/cm3 ) 1.669 1.858

Max Shear Stress (max ) (kN/m2 ) 74.196 107.321

Horiz. Disp @ max (mm) 2.075 1.962

Vert. Disp @ max (mm) 0.013 0.317

Peak Friction 6 ( ) 36.8 47.3

Max Dilation 0.132 0.362

Max Dilation 6 ( ) 7.5 19.9

Predicted Peak Friction 6 ( ) 41.1 54.7

Bolton Peak Friction 6 ( ) 34.4 47.7

Mass of sand (g) 211.8 228.4

Corrected height (mm) 33.35 34.05

Volume of sand (cm3 ) 126.9 122.9

The bulk density was calculated by weighing the loose and dense samples after shear testing using the volume

calculated during the two tests. All other values were calculated using MATLAB with the tabulated results

shown in Table 1, on page 4. Note that the applied normal stress for this test (99 kPa) is in excess of the

recommended (7 kPa) normal stress per ASTM D3080.

y2 y 1

Slope: m= (14)

x2 x1

Peak friction angle was calculated by examining the data and determining the maximum shear, followed

by calculating the associated angle using equation (9). Rate of dilation () was calculated by finding the

associated vertical displacement at peak stress and using equation (14). In MATLAB this was accomplished

by indexing the preceding and current or next number to use as data for the slope equation.

The critical state friction angle (cs ) was calculated using equation (6) with a result that within the 30 -

37 range for sand, as calculated Bolton for sands.

Results from the tests and the solutions shown in Table 1 show that these approaches to estimating friction

angles using equations 3 and 10 are valid. The results of the dense test with Boltons modified friction

formula are very close in particular. The loose test result has a greater variation, but as noted previously,

this test result is very much influenced on the quality of the testing process itself.

4

Figure 2: Results for dense and loose tests.

Normal effective stress from the vertical load will decrease the peak stress ratio as there is an inverse

relationship between the void ratio and effective stress. This increased normal effective stress has an impact

on the dilation of the soil and changes, as its initial void ratio will be higher than its critical state void ratio.

Essentially, a dense sample can have results more akin to that of loose sample with this increase in normal

effective stress.

The first (100 kPa) test was completed on machine #1 with the second (200 kPa) on machine #2. The

change of machine was due to a failure in a compression fitting for the cell. The data for the second test

was taken from another groups machine and distributed to all the teams, with data on the sample for the

100 kPa test used in both sets of calculations. Both of the tests were completed as quick-undrained triaxial

which facilitates easier calculation as 3 (= c ). The test results are presented without consideration for

piston friction or rubber membrane corrections.

4.2.1 Results

The volumetric, dimensional and water content data for both tests are referred to the first specimen for the

100 kPa testing as the second specimen data was not available. Hence, an assumption is made that both

specimen have the same properties as they came from the same block of Kaolin clay in the laboratory.

5

Sample 100 kPa 200 kPa

Liquidity Index 0.642*

Shear Stress (13) (Su ) 10.4*

Bulk Density (wet) (g/cm3 ) 1.625*

Specimen Diameter (mm) 38*

Specimen Length (mm) 76*

Specimen Volume (cm3 ) 86.2*

Mass of Specimen and Fixings (g) 269.3*

Mass of Mass of Fixings (g) 126.9*

Mass of Sample and Tin (wet) (g) 31.3*

Mass of Sample and Tin (dry) (g) 23.7*

Mass of Tin (g) 9.6*

Deviator Stress @f (q)(kN/m2 ) 30.9 32.6

Principal Stress @f (1 ) (kN/m2 ) 130.9 232.6

Principal Stress @f (3 ) (kN/m2 ) 100.00 200.00

Shear Stress @f (Su ) (12) (kN/m2 ) 15.4 16.3

* specimen data for 100 kPa experiment used for both tests.

Figure 4 on page 8 displays the deviator stress over the strain. Both sets of data were adjusted over the test

range using Equation4 to account for any swelling of the specimen during testing. Figure 6 on page 9 shows

the failure plane for the 100 kPa cell pressure test. This plane reflects that of maximum shear stress which

looks to be very near a 45 angle, accounting for the skewed, off axis angle that the photo was taken and

also for deformation in the clay after failure was reached. This conforms to the principles of stress analysis

that the maximum shear stress plane is 45 with respect to the planes of principal stresses 1 and 3 .

ASTM D 2850 states that for 100% saturated samples, consolidation cannot occur as there is no drainage.

Specimens of similar water content and void ratio will have similar un-drained shear strength. The un-

drained test will create an excess of pore pressure in clays and with a consolidated sample the void ratio

will remain constant. The skeleton of the soil (clay) cannot contract or dilate and the pressure will tend to

accumulate in the sample centre.

Hence the cell pressure will not impact the effective stress as the Kaolin clay is fully saturated and changes

to cell pressure will result in a similar increase to pore pressure. This can be interpreted on a Mohr circle

with a clay having similar properties, as the normal stress (n ) will move to the right but critical shear stress

(f.cs ) will remain constant.

Shear strength (Su ) results for the two specimens are shown in Table 2. The calculated value using the

liquidity index method (Wood 1990) in equation 13 does have some variation from that when using the

principle stresses method in equation 12. It could be argued that these results are within an acceptable

margin of error as there could also be variation in the actual water content, liquid and plastic limits given.

It is fair to state that these two methods serve as a tool for validation of one to the other. The outcome will

certainly depend on the accuracy of the raw data, particularly in the water content, liquid and plastic indices.

6

Figure 3: Schematic of triaxial test apparatus.

5 Discussion

The shearbox was originally developed to determine angles of shear resistance for re-compacted sands with

respect to voids ratio, and determines the critical voids ratio of dry sand. It is used extensively to test for

residual shear strength in over-consolidated clay. Other tests are those for friction resistance of various soils,

rocks and gravels to include combinations of these. Its great advantage is the simplicity of testing and ease

of setting good quality samples. Drawbacks include constraining a sample to fail on one particular plane and

that the stresses within the confines of the sample box are not evenly distributed. Preparation of a loosely

packed specimen takes patience on the part of the machine operator and requires a gentle touch to maintain

the loose state from preparation to testing.

There is a great deal of skill and extra equipment involved in triaxial testing. From the sampling tube/cutting

ring, extruder, split former, installation of end caps, membrane and o-rings it is rather complicated and

lengthy process in comparison. These devices can handle various sizes of specimens up to 150 mm in di-

ameter and can support cell pressures up to 1700 kPa, with larger machines available with steel cylinders

capable of handling pressures in the MPa. A number of testing modes are also available to include drained

and un-drained. The machine is complex and relies on high quality seals, a significant amount of calibrated

support equipment, and a very skilled operator. The triaxial testing apparatus is one that would generally

be used for a site survey, as extracted samples from sampling tubes would be readily set.

7

Figure 4: Results of triaxial testing.

The quality of output is indeed in the hands of the operator. During the both experiments the author and

partners found difficulty in preparation of the samples. Setting the membrane on the triaxial specimen was

especially tricky and it was only with the skilled hands of the laboratory assistant that the sample was

prepared properly. Other problems came from following steps out of sequence to include missing a weighing

of the shear box sample after a loose packed test; however, there was enough time in the lab session to

complete the shearbox testing correctly with all steps completed.

6 Conclusion

To the novice these tests would at first appear to be complex for what appears to be simple materials,

essentially a piece of clay and some sand. As a non-civil engineer the world of soil mechanics generally one of

mystery where the concepts rarely transfer to the world of mechanical or electrical engineering. What is per-

haps most impressive after completing this lab and working through the problems and literature review is the

amount of information obtained from what are in principle, very simple tests. Over the length of the training

module preceding the lab there were discussions including quick clay which was the source of a land slide in

Rissa, Norway, and on the properties of stiff sands with respect to cyclic loading of ocean mono-piles; which

is of particular interest to the Cranfield REMS students. This introductory session has given the author a

deeper appreciation of the world of soil mechanics and the requirement and reasoning for these types of tests.

These labs have introduced through practical methods the concepts of effective stress, critical state, and the

analytical tools developed to describe and predict the properties of civil engineering materials. Both sets of

tests were performed in the simplest cases which required only a minimum amount of skill and time from

the students. There are a multitude of other tests and variations of testing that can be performed, including

the addition of many adjustment factors to account for variation in stresses and strains in samples during

testing. Prior to the lab the REMS students were granted a full tour of the laboratory facilities of Fugro in

Wallingford. A vast array of testing equipment and techniques were introduced and a significant work force

of engineers, technicians, and machine operators were employed to perform testing and classification as part

of Fugros business model.

8

Figure 5: Comparison of results.

9

Figure 7: Photographs of testing equipment.

10

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