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Yearly 2006/07

BECE/06S/24 BEng (Hons) Civil Engineering Monday

28 May 2007

Level 2


May 2007 Geotechnical Engineering 1 13:30 – 16:30 Hours

[CIVE 2004Y(3)]

This paper contains SEVEN (7) Questions. Candidates are required to

answer ANY FIVE (5) Questions.

Figure 1 is attached.
Question 1

A laboratory standard Proctor compaction test on a soil gave a maximum dry unit
weight of 19.5 kN/m3 at an air-voids content of 5%.

After field compaction on a construction site, a cylindrical core sample of the same
soil was found to weigh 2000g. The core was 125mm long and had a diameter of
100mm. After oven drying, the core sample was found to weigh 1800g.

For the compacted soil in the field, determine the following:

(a) water content [4 marks]

(b) dry unit weight [4 marks]
(c) degree of compaction [4 marks]
(d) air-voids content [4 marks]
(e) whether compaction was carried out on the wet or dry side of the laboratory
optimum moisture content. [4 marks]

Assume the specific gravity of the soil particles to be 2.70.

Question 2

(a) In terms of the laboratory testing procedures, differentiate between a

consolidated-drained and a consolidated-undrained triaxial test. [6 marks]

(b) A quick unconsolidated-undrained triaxial test on a specimen of saturated

sand gave a compressive strength of 200 kN/m2 when the cell pressure was
100 kN/m2. For a similar test on another specimen of the same soil, estimate
its compressive strength when a cell pressure of 300 kN/m2 is applied
undrained before shearing? Give reasons for your answer. [6 marks]

(c) A sand has effective strength parameters c' = 0 and φ' = 35o. The sand is
subjected to a vertical principal stress of 250kN/m2. What are the minimum
and maximum values of horizontal principal stress that can be imposed on
the sand before it fails? [8 marks]

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Question 3

One-dimensional consolidation test on a silty clay specimen gave the following

results, when the pressure was increased from 100 to 200 kN/m2:

Time (min) Settlement
(mm x 10-2)
0 0
1 17
4 25
9 34
16 42
25 50
36 55
49 59
64 60
81 61

(a) If the average thickness of the specimen during consolidation was 18.5mm,
determine the coefficient of consolidation of the soil. [12 marks]

Tv = [-0.933log10(1 – U) – 0.0851] where U = degree of consolidation

(b) The stratum of silty clay from which the specimen was taken is 4m thick; it
has highly permeable strata above it and impermeable bedrock below it. It is
estimated that the construction of a building will subject the stratum of silty
clay to the same increment of loading as that used in the test. Calculate the
time taken for the building to reach 60% of its ultimate consolidation
settlement. [8 marks]

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Question 4

(a) A stratum of sand 6m thick overlies a stratum of clay. On a graph paper, draw
a scaled diagram indicating the distribution of total stress, porewater pressure
and effective stress to a depth of 8m below ground level for the following

(i) if the water table is at ground level;

(ii) if the water table is at 2m below ground level and the sand above the
water table remains saturated under capillary action.

Saturated unit weight of sand = 20 kN/m3

Saturated unit weight of clay = 18 kN/m3 [10 marks]

(b) An unconfined aquifer consists of a stratum of permeable soil overlying a

horizontal impermeable bedrock. In order to determine the coefficient of
permeability of the aquifer, a pumping test was carried out in a well bored to
the bedrock. At steady state, the pumping rate from the well was 1 x 10-3 m3/s
and the heights of water in two observation boreholes at distances of 12m and
24m from the pumping well were respectively 4.0 and 7.0m above the
bedrock. Calculate the coefficient of permeability of the aquifer, deriving the
formula used. [10 marks]

Question 5

(a) In foundation engineering, explain what is meant by “bulbs of pressure”. By

means of an example, explain their significance in geotechnical engineering
practice. [8 marks]

(b) Two vertical point loads, 10000 kN and 7500 kN, act on the surface of a soil
mass at a distance of 5m apart. Between 2m and 4m below the ground surface,
there is a stratum of clay. The clay has a coefficient of compressibility, mv, of
0.02 m2/MN for the range of effective stresses under consideration. Calculate
the ultimate consolidation settlement that will be produced in the clay
stratum beneath the 10000 kN load. [12 marks]

The increase in vertical stress , ∆σv, beneath a point load, Q, at a point within
a soil mass can be expressed as

∆σv = (3Qz3)/(2πR5)

where the point in the soil is at vertical depth, z, beneath the horizontal soil
surface and is at diagonal distance, R, from the point load, Q, acting vertically
at the soil surface.

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Question 6

(a) Explain why, in computing the safe bearing capacity, the factor of safety is
applied to the net ultimate bearing capacity. [4 marks]

(b) A ground profile at a particular site consists of 10m of compacted fill

overlying a thick layer of compact coral. The fill is a gravelly sand having a
bulk unit weight of 18.0 kN/m3 above the water table and a saturated unit
weight of 20.0 kN/m3 below the water table. The effective shear strength of
the gravelly sand are c' = 0 and φ' = 35o. A square pad foundation of side
dimension 4m is founded at 1.5m below the surface of the fill.

Assuming a factor of safety of 3 against shear failure, calculate the design

bearing capacity when

(i) the water table is substantially below the foundation;

(ii) the water table is at the base of the foundation;
(iii) the water table is at ground surface.
[16 marks]
Bearing capacity factors are:
Nq = 33.3,
Nγ = 1.8(Nq – 1)tanφ'

Shape factors are:

sq = 1 + (B/L)tanφ',
sγ = 1 – 0.4(B/L)

Question 7

(a) Describe FOUR situations in which a pile system may be the preferred
foundation option. [12 marks]

(b) A 300mm circular concrete pile is driven to a depth of 10m in a saturated clay
deposit. The clay has a unit weight of 20 kN/m3 and an undrained shear
strength which varies linearly from 40 kN/m2 at the ground surface to 80
kN/m2 at a depth of 10m. Assuming an adhesion factor of 0.4, calculate the
design load capacity of the pile with factors of safety of 3 against end-bearing
failure and 1.5 against shaft resistance failure. [8 marks]

Use Figure 1.



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Figure 1. Skempton’s values of Nc for φu = 0

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