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TEST EMBANKMENTS FOR DESIGN PURPOSES

2.7.1 Introduction
Oiten, it is difficult to determine strength and deformation characteristics in
organic
soils by ordinary field and laboratory investigations. To establish the true
stress and strain conditions, the construction of test embankments is often a
useful
method. This is especially the case for larger projects, e.g. where stage
construction
of embankments is planned. A number of test embankments are reported in the
literature, e.g. Landva et al (1986), Chang (1981), Wolski et al (1988), Hudson et
al
(1989).
Building embankments or dykes on organic soil is in most cases mainly a deformation
problem. By some means, the main settlements must develop before the road
embankment or the dyke is put into service. However, the bearing capacity of the
soil may sometimes be a limitation. In 1989, a symposium was held in Malaysia on
soil improvement techniques for road embankments, where different soil improvement
methods were tested, (Hudson et al 1989). The aim of these test embankments
was to clarify which techniques could be useful in future construction of main
roads
in Malaysia. This is one example ofthe use of test embankments. The test
embankments
were heavily instrumented during the construction period, which is very important
for the evaluation of the test results. A number of monitoring equipments
are presented in Chapter 2.6. A disadvantage of test embankments is that they often
become expensive and time-consuming, which is the reason why they are not often
used.
Before the construction of a test embankment, it is important to clarify the
purpose
of the test and the limitations and requirements on the complete construction.
In Malaysia, for instance, it was stated that the different test embankments should
be built during the same period and in similar soil conditions. The performance
requirements on the embankments during and after construction were also clearly
stated.
In the following, examples are given of different purposes of the construction of
test embankments.
The bearing capacity of the soil can be determined, Fig. 2.40. It is then very
important to measure both horizontal and lateral deformations during construction
of the test embankment to be able to estimate the yield level. In some soils, such
as
fibrous peat, the shear strength of the soil increases fairly rapidly when the soil
consolidates under the additional load. Also the strength increase due to this
consolidation
can be measured. This means that the bearing capacity of the soil increases
and, as a consequence, stage construction can be used to improve the soil. In con74
Site Investigations
nection with beating capacity tests, the effect of loading berms or flat slopes can
be
evaluated.
Fig. 2.40. The test embankment at Antoniny after failure.
Deformation characteristics of the soil can also be clarified from test
embankments.
In particular, the influence of horizontal displacements can be measured.
Also the time-settlement curve for different layers and for the total soil deposit
can
be established. This may be important for planning the full scale project.
The effect of surcharging, unloading and vertical drains on the time-settlement
curves can be evaluated. If a certain height (level) of the top of the embankment

or
dyke is to be established and maintained, the construction method and necessary
surcharge can be obtained from the test.
The effect on both beating capacity and deformations of different improvement
techniques can be evaluated, e.g. the effect of preloading, lime columns, vertical
drains or geotextile reinforcement.
For all these purposes, a test embankment is the most realistic test of the soil.
Test Embankments for Design Purposes 75
2.7.2 Preparatory investigations
Before designing a test embankment, a preparatory investigation of the soil at
the test site must be performed. All the parameters necessary for calculating the
behaviour of the embankment with respect to the purpose of the test should be
obtained. Index properties, shear strength and deformation properties of the soil,
as
well as the groundwater situation, are normally required. Methods for use in field
and laboratory investigations are presented in Chapter 2.3-2.5 and Chapter 3
respectively.
Specially designed laboratory tests can be used, for example when a
special loading program is planned.
2.7.3 Location of the test embankment
When discussing the location of a test embankment, there are a number of aspects
to be considered; both practical and geotechnical questions that may influence
the results of the test and also the conclusions of the test. As a checklist for
consideration,
the following aspects can be noted:

. the soil characteristics and the groundwater conditions ought to be representative. The depth to firm bottom layer.9 The location should be in an area which is characteristic of the total area revolved in the project.

such as piles. .9 The test embankment should not be placed in the vicinity of existing constructions where the soil is already influenced by loads or construction elements.

9 It should be possible to drain the embankment or the ground to the same level as for the complete construction. .

uneven settlements will occur at the site of the test embankment in the future. Otherwise. .9 The test embankment should not normally be placed in the area of the plalmed construction as the soil characteristics will change under the test embankment.

it may be important to avoid areas of trees and dense vegetation where the influence of a root mat might have a disproportionate influence on the test results. .9 Vegetation generally reinforces the surface layer of the soil. Therefore.

Stability and settlement analysis must be performed in order to make reliable predictions for the behaviour of the embankment. Some special questions are related to the use of test embankments: . This is important not only to check the test results. If there is more than one concept for the realization ofthe project. The design procedure can then follow the normal pattern of design for embankments on soft soils. 2.4 Design of test embankments In the design of a test embankment. such as the height of the embankment. the general concept for the main project.9 Finally. for example when testing more than one improvement technique. should be followed.7. but also to be able to foresee measures that will be necessary during the construction of the test embankment. Also the choice of monitoring equipment is influenced by the expected behaviour of the test embankment. it may be wise to consider trafficability to the test site and the distance to suitable filling material and other facilities necessary for such a project. it may be necessary to construct more than 76 Site Investigations one test embankment.

perhaps 3-4 times the width of the dyke. For highway embankment projects. where settlement behaviour is of major interest. . it is important to have a test embankment which is long enough. the test embankment ought to have a width of at least 5-10 m plus the depth of the compressible layer that is of interest.9 The size of the test embankment must be large enough to be representative for the future embankment or dyke so that the boundary conditions do not influence the test results too much. for example. With narrow dykes.

. it may be wise to retain the test embankment during the construction period of the full scale project. In order to obtain reformation on the secondary settlements.9 The working time for the different steps in construction of the test embankment should preferably be of the same order as the time available for the corresponding steps in construction of the full scale project. At least 80 % of the settlements should have occurred during the test period so that the time-settlement curves can be extrapolated. additional measures can be taken during the construction of the final embankment to avoid the inconvenience of secondary settlements. In that way.

' iS ~S S M S. t Sand ' 4 J L . ~'S *S t -7 .. . " "~. the accuracy of the Test Embankments for Design Purposes 77 35m x y &O ~3.41.6 ~ 3.I P-2 .P-4 staqel " ~ .6 35.0 m .K 4. 42 # 3.:! P-- 1 Peat . Many instruments are available for monitoring and some of these are described in Chapter 2.0 '1 I f 4. 60 z ~ o .~ 3.6 ~. 2. Location and type of monitoring equipment for a test embankment at Antoniny.6 Z30 y Note6 River I . .L . ~ . . The type of equipment and the location of measuring points should be thoroughly considered in relation to the purpose of the test. . .- LEGEND .5 Test embankment monitoring The main idea of monitoring the test embankment is to measure those parameters or the course of behaviour of the embankment corresponding to the purpose of the test. 78 Site Investigations equipment should be about 10 times better than the accuracy absolutely required to evaluate the test results. I:'-5 M i M M Calcareous soil/Gyttja ~. /~-~': "S S" S" "'S "S / [~ P-6 M E M !~. also the monitoring equipment has to be considered so that there is enough space and time available for installation and zero reading of the instruments.BAT piezometer Fig. In general.9 In the design and plalming of the test embankment. .9 # 3.0 Z 3.. 2. One example of an extensively instrumented test embankment is shown in Fig.9 4. . S-settlement gauge M-magnetic settlement gauge --. Poland.2 11.0 -4'~ 3. .2 __~___ 116 __ %.H -hose settlement gauge o I-inclinometer P. . 2.7. The following general recommendations can be made for different monitoring parameters: . (~~ ~ {SN. .L ~ stage 3 ~ .. I / . M MI~ I P-3 . In addition.0 X30%. .__9 W__4.41.2 Z 3.6. ~. extra monitoring equipment may be installed for research purposes.9 3.6 3.:t.t.

For this reason. enables a more detailed evaluation of the deformation process. Measurements of settlements in the different soil layers in more profiles across the embankment. If the embankment is expected to settle so much that the original ground surface is pressed down below the groundwater level. The latter information also enables an evaluation of initial and subsequent shear deformations. The horizontal displacement can be used to determine yield points of the bearing capacity and to estimate the volume of soil pressed outside the embankment. In that way. it may be valuable for some transducers to be read automatically. inclinometer pipes are often placed in the middle of the slope where the shear deformations are greatest. as well as the mode of presentation of the test results. it is important that people responsible for the monitoring equipment are present at the site. the interval between readings. the course of events . Not all instruments can be connected to automatic data acquisition systems. However. When planning the monitoring system. pore pressure measurements should be taken.9 To evaluate the consolidation characteristics. An even better method is to use total load cells on the ground surface. casings may be installed on top of a lime column or in the centre of the spacing between vertical drains. it is advisable to install casings on steel plates on the ground surface before construction of the test embankment. Ifinclinometers are placed also outside the embankment. If there is more than one typical soil layer. and particularly under the slopes. preferably in the middle of typical soil layers and in the permeable bottom layers close to the centre of the embankment. check its operation and recalibrate it. The settlement distribution across the embankment can be measured with the hose settlement gauge. However. If the changes in soil strength or consolidation parameters are to be investigated by in situ testing or sampling and following laboratory tests. They can then prevent damage to the equipment. To enable an evaluation of the degree of consolidation. In the case of improved soil. The main reasons for this recommendation are the lack of space Test Embankments for Design Purposes 79 among the instruments and the limited possibilities for installing casings later in the fight place without disturbances. During the construction of a test embankment. it is advisable to use the thickness of the fill rather than the height of the embankment in this context. such cells must be large enough to indicate an average total pressure. As there are rather large initial settlements in organic soils. Reference points must be installed a long distance from the test embankment or be made of steel rods to firm bottom layer. The applied load is often calculated from the height of the embankment and from measurements of the density of the filling material. it may be wise to install measuring points at the ground surface and at the boundaries between the different soil layers. must be considered. Measurements should preferably also be made under the slope and outside the embankment area in order to obtain a total picture of the pore pressure distribution in the soil. the horizontal compression of the soil can be evaluated. it is advisable also to measure the groundwater pressure close to the original ground surface in order to calculate the effective load. Filling and compaction around the equipment must be performed with extra care. settlement measurements ought to made close to the centre of the embankment where no shear deformations occur.

It is most important to follow the design of the test embankment. All measurements of settlements.: . the importance of keeping the monitoring equipment operating satisfactorily must be stressed.:-.i : '< :i. For long-term projects..-.....1. It is advisable to contact the contractor when planning the test embankment construction and emphasize this point.-.6 Construction of the test embankment Construction of the test embankment should follow the assumed procedure for the actual full scale project.-.. In general.-. I I:::.between the manual readings can be followed. In an ongoing test.-~...[oa 1-! .r zoo f J J !.-. 2. P. filling in different stages. pore pressures and horizontal displacements should be related both to time and applied load.. .0: : ~ ~ .: .~.--. readings ought to be taken both before and after the change in question so that the effect of the change can be distinguished. " ol"t.. as deviations will result in undesired movements and pressures.7.42. the value of the embankment test is very limited.-~. ~E... readings should be taken more frequently close to changes of different kinds... Furthermore.. . the design drawings should be revised so that they describe the actual construction and installation both in plan and in sections. Without proper measurements. 2..-I. improvement. Dates of certain stages should be added. unloading etc.i::.7 Presentation of test results In connection with the installation of monitoring equipment and the construction of the embankment. ~.~T P-3 CALC SOIL I GYTTJA [ .. ---.-:... (]} EMBANKMENT No 1.: -::!.7. It should be considered that it is not possible subsequently to remember all the details needed for the explanation of the test results unless they are written down.. p-'.[o..-i .. -. 2.-. it is some80 S i t e I n v e s t i g a t i o n s times necessary to use a logarithmic scale for the time.i. . An example of such a presentation is given in Fig.

0 ~ 9 o o " o 30 CL 20 100 9O O Q_ . the results are finally compiled. . . .... . 1985 1986 DATA .8 Analysis of test results and recommendations The results from the test embankment should be continuously compiled and analysed during the construction and observation period so that necessary measures can be taken if unexpected events occur. ..:. . . : .I 1100 TIME. : :: . .. . It should be taken into account that failures in organic soils otten are progressive..1-... "3.. In fibrous peat.. . .-. . . " ' . When evaluating the bearing capacity of the ground. o~ "~ ~ ~2 III STAGE 1 I I STAGE " ~ 0 . ..-... : .-..-. . presented and evaluated.. 2..8 I ' " SAND E 3 ~.i P..~ 40 .42.::. 9. .. . ..1983 198Z. -..:. -. -. Comparisons should also be made with the previous calculations both for stability and settlements. considerable settlement and cracking normally occur before an actual slide takes place. . ..--.-... ..:.. there is rarely any sliding at all.. . . Thus.8(2 70._ . The pore pressure dissipation in piezometers P-1 and P-2 under a test embankment at Antoniny related both to time and applied load.DAYS P-2 Fig. . . .--..7. . . both vertical and horizontal movements should be studied in an attempt to find a yield point where the deformations increase more than linearly with increasing load. . : . Test Embankments for Design Purposes 81 2. At the end of the observation time or the available time.:::: : .:-. .~ .. =-: :. ~0 2.0 ~o " ~o " 7. The recommendations from the stability analysis of the test results for the full scale project may include the following: . 60 P . . .:-..-. : -:.

The evaluation of the test results leads to a more reliable time-settlement process with or without improvement and with eventual surcharging and unloading. * increasing or decreasing the time for consolidation before filling of the next stage .: . e. at the same time. new recommendations can be made for the full scale project. On this basis.g. In deep soil layers. In the evaluation of the settlement characteristics of the ground. presenting a control program for pore pressure dissipation or shear strength increase.9 increasing or decreasing the thickness of the fill totally or in different stages. depending on the purpose and design of the test embankment. primary consolidations in the middle layers continue for a long time while. the upper and lower layers have reached the stage of secondary consolidation. the degree of consolidation at different depths should be considered as observed from the piezometer measurements and the bellows hose or magnetic screw settlement gauges.

.9 revised conclusion of the total settlements of the embankment or dyke.

.9 increasing or decreasing the necessary height of fill or surcharge to obtain a certain level at a desired time.

.9 decreasing or increasing the time for consolidation of the subsoil or decreasing the spacing of vertical drains.

.9 shortening or omitting vertical drams.

9 presenting a control program for settlement measurements. .