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Geotechnical

Testing Journal
H. Jebali,1 W. Frikha,1 and M. Bouassida2

DOI: 10.1520/GTJ20160067

3D Consolidation of Tunis Soft


Clay Improved by Geodrains
VOL. 40 NO. 3 / MAY 2017
Geotechnical Testing Journal

doi:10.1520/GTJ20160067 Vol. 40 No. 3 / May 0000 / available online at www.astm.org

H. Jebali,1 W. Frikha,1 and M. Bouassida2

3D Consolidation of Tunis Soft Clay Improved


by Geodrains

Reference
Jebali, H., Frikha, W., and Bouassida, M., “3D Consolidation of Tunis Soft Clay Improved by Geodrains,”
Geotechnical Testing Journal, Vol. 40, No. 3, 2017, pp. 1–10, http://dx.doi.org/10.1520/GTJ20160067.
ISSN 0149-6115

ABSTRACT
Manuscript received April 5, 2016; This paper presents an experimental study carried out on undisturbed cored samples of
accepted for publication December 20,
2016; published online February 16, Tunis soft soil extracted at 17.25 m depth at the lagoon of Sejoumi. Three series of
2017. oedometer tests were performed: the first one was a standard test on Tunis soft soil, the
1
Université de Tunis El Manar – Ecole second one was performed on the same soil improved by a prefabricated vertical drain
Nationale d’Ingénieurs de Tunis. Mebradrain 88 (Mb88) type during which vertical drainage was prevented. The third series
LR14ES03-Ingénierie Géotechnique. BP
comprised similar tests to those of series two, during which horizontal and vertical drainage
37 Le Belvédère, 1002 Tunis, Tunisie
2
were allowed. The assessment of Carillo’s theory was studied by quantifying the effect of
Université de Tunis El Manar – Ecole
radial and vertical consolidation from the observed global degree of consolidation of
Nationale d’Ingénieurs de Tunis.
LR14ES03-Ingénierie Géotechnique. BP improved Tunis soft soil specimens by geodrains. The rate in decrease of coefficients cr and
37 Le Belvédère, 1002 Tunis, Tunisie, kr was greater than that recorded for coefficients cv and kr, respectively. Using the Carillo’s
(Corresponding author), e-mail:
mounir.bouassida@fulbrightmail.org theory, a lower degree of consolidation which starts from 10 % is obtained; however, when
using simple approximate methods by considering recorded measures from series 3, higher
degrees of consolidation starting from 70 % were obtained.

Keywords
coefficient of consolidation, hydraulic conductivity, geodrains, degree of consolidation

Nomenclature
Cc ¼ compression index
Cs ¼ swelling index
cr ¼ radial coefficient of consolidation
cv ¼ vertical coefficient of consolidation
e(0) ¼ (initial) void ratio
Ic ¼ consistency index

Copyright V
C 2017 by ASTM International, 100 Barr Harbor Drive, PO Box C700, West Conshohocken, PA 19428-2959. 1
2 Geotechnical Testing Journal

Ip ¼ plasticity index The obtained results from tests performed by Jia (2010)
kr ¼ radial hydraulic conductivity showed that the horizontal coefficient of consolidation (cr) is
kv ¼ vertical hydraulic conductivity greater than the vertical coefficient of consolidation (cv). This
PVD ¼ Prefabricated Vertical Drain result is almost due to the recorded anisotropy of hydraulic con-
RD ¼ radial drainage ductivity. The ratio between the horizontal and vertical hydrau-
VD ¼ vertical drainage lic conductivities is about 1.65. Hsu and Tsai (2016) presented
U ¼ global degree of consolidation analytical and experimental investigations of the combined and
Ur ¼ radial degree of consolidation radial consolidation drainage under linear time-dependent load-
Uv ¼ vertical degree of consolidation ing by taking account of the loading-dependent coefficients of
V & RD ¼ vertical and radial drainage vertical and radial consolidation using a viscoelastic approach.
Wl ¼ liquid limit The results indicate that for any given effective pressure, the
Wp ¼ plastic limit coefficient of radial permeability kr exhibited higher values com-
r0 ¼ Vertical effective stress. pared with the coefficients of vertical permeability kv for the
tested soils. Likewise, cr values were generally higher than cv val-
ues owing to higher values of kr. Azari et al. (2016) applied an
Introduction elastic–viscoplastic model to model a soft soil improved by ver-
In recent years, considerable attention has been devoted world- tical drains and compared their simulation results with field
wide to the problem of building structures on highly compress- measurements. Their results showed that the distribution of the
ible saturated soils and to the development of soil improvement overconsolidation ratios in the disturbed zone greatly influ-
techniques for increasing bearing capacity, reducing settle- enced the viscoplastic strain rates, creep strain limits, and
ments, and accelerating consolidation of soft soils. consolidation.
Prefabricated verticals drains (PVD) with preloading Parsa-Pajouh et al. (2016) evaluated the efficiency of several
method was considered the most practiced improvement tech- proposed formulations for plane-strain modeling of vertical
nique to accelerate the consolidation of soft soils and, hence, to drain-assisted consolidation through an integrated numerical
increase their bearing capacity (Indraratna et al. 2009). In Tuni- and experimental investigation. By comparing the predicted
sia, the PVD associated with preloading became of current use and measured pore pressures in well-controlled laboratory tests,
since the 1990s to accelerate the consolidation of Tunis soft soil the advantages and disadvantages of these formulations were
for numerous infrastructure projects (Bouassida and Hazzar discussed. The authors mentioned that the stress–strain behav-
2008; Kanoun and Bouassida 2008). ior of natural soft soils is highly nonlinear and very complex
Sridhar and Robinson (2011) proposed a method for the owing to different fundamental features of soil, such as anisot-
determination of the coefficient of radial consolidation (cr) ropy and creep.
using the “log t” method from the compression data obtained Rujikiatkamjorn et al. (2016) mentioned that previous stud-
from radial drainage consolidation tests. The method is vali- ies on different aspects of soil disturbance due to driving vertical
dated by comparing the experimental data with theoretical drains are limited. An extensive soil characterization was carried
predictions. out while installing drains at Ballina (Australia), to obtain more
Yune and Chung (2005) developed a consolidometer for realistic smear zone. Soil disturbance was evaluated by deter-
peripheral radial drainage measurement of Korea reconstituted mining the change in the coefficient of permeability, the water
and undisturbed clays. These authors concluded that there is no content, and volume compressibility away from the drain. The
noticeable difference in compression curves recorded either characteristics of the smear zone were compared to the data
from radial and vertical drainage. In the over-consolidated state, available from past literatures and indicated that the radius of
the effect of drainage direction is hardly observed; cr values for the smear zone was about 6.3 times the equivalent mandrel
the normally consolidated state are higher than cv values. Such a radius, which was larger than that observed in the laboratory
result reflects that the anisotropy of permeability (i.e., higher using reconstituted specimens.
permeability in horizontal direction) revealed noticeable in virgin The objective of this paper is to measure the coefficient of
compression. A higher anisotropy is also observed for undisturbed consolidation and hydraulic conductivity of improved Tunis
samples (cr/cv ¼ 1.7) than for reconstituted ones (cr/cv ¼ 1.3). soft soil by geodrains when subjected to vertical and horizon-
From the tests carried out by Seah and Juirnarongrit tal drainage. These measurements will serve to compare
(2003), it was concluded that the ratios of kr/kv and cr/cv between the predictions of global degree of consolidation
increased from 1.5 to 3 with increased effective vertical stress using the Carillo’s theory and measurements from the
from 20 to 500 kPa. The ratios of kr/kv and cr/cv are close to oedometer test performed on Tunis soft soil improved by
unity at in situ effective stress with an over-consolidation ratio central geodrain. Obtained results are discussed and then
of 2. interpreted.
ON JEBALI ET AL. ON IMPROVEMENT OF TUNIS SOFT SOIL 3

Determination of Radial and was suggested by combining the vertical and radial drainage
effects to predict the global degree of consolidation, U as:
Vertical Coefficients of
ð1  UÞ ¼ ð1  Ur Þð1  Uv Þ (1)
Consolidation
in which Ur and Uv are the radial and the vertical degree of con-
In the presence of PVD (Prefabricated Vertical Drain), the
solidation, respectively.
radial drainage mostly controls the consolidation of soft soil
Theoretically speaking, Carillo’s formula given by Eq 1 is
while the role of vertical drainage is negligible.
only valid for an instantaneously applied load.
Therefore, the commonly adopted consolidation theories for
The consolidation of soft soil is related to the dissipation of
designing prefabricated vertical drains using the unit cell model
excess pore pressure generated by the surcharge load. For radial
were those of Barron (1948) (Kjellman, 1948a) and Hansbo
consolidation problem with centered vertical drain in oedome-
(1981). Because the solutions considering both vertical and radial
ter cell, the governing differential equation of excess pore pres-
drainage are complicated, those most used in practice ignore the
sure is written (Sridharan et al. 1996):
effect of vertical drainage, such as Barron’s theory (Kjellman,  2 
1948b). Barron (1948) developed solutions for two types of bound- @ðDur Þ @ ðDur Þ 1 @ðDur Þ
¼ cr þ (2)
ary conditions at the surface of improved soil: (i) “free vertical @t @r 2 r @r
strain,” resulting from a uniform distribution of vertical load, and where:
(ii) “equal vertical strain,” which results from imposing the same cr ¼ the coefficient of radial consolidation of soft soil, and
vertical deformation. However, in some cases, the vertical drainage Dður Þ ¼ Du(r, t) is the excess of pore pressure at radius r
by PVD has a considerable effect on the degree of consolidation of from the drain axis, at time t.
improved soil; Terzaghi (1943) initially suggested the well-known The solution of Eq 2 that uses the condition of equal verti-
simple method for one-dimensional (1D) vertical consolidation cal strain without smear effect is given by (Barron 1948):
theory, which applies for unimproved soil. Theory which applies  
8Tr
for unimproved soil when subjected to such load the dissipation of Ur ¼ 1  exp  (3)
FðnÞ
excess pore pressure is assumed to occur vertically.
Furthermore, for most cases in practice, the soil is not The smear zone is defined as the disturbed zone of soft soil
homogeneous, and the deformation of PVD improved soil does immediately adjacent to the vertical drain. F(n) is a Barron’s
not occur in 1D condition. Carillo’s theoretical solution (1942) function given by:

FIG. 1
Gradation curve of Tunis soft soil.
4 Geotechnical Testing Journal

 2 
TABLE 1 Atterberg limits of Tunis soft soil extracted at the lagoon @ðDuz Þ @ ðDuz Þ
of Sejoumi. ¼ cv (7)
@t @z 2
WL (%) Wp (%) Ip (%) Ic
where:
48.5 28.7 19.8 0.5 D(uz) ¼ Du(z, t) is the excess pore pressure depending on
   2  the depth z and time t, and
n2 3n  1 cv ¼ the coefficient of vertical consolidation.
FðnÞ ¼ lnðnÞ  (4)
n2  1 4n2
The solution of differential Eq 7 leads to the equation of
where n is the drain spacing ratio given by: vertical degree of consolidation Uv as follows:
Uv < 50 %:
D rffiffiffiffiffiffi
n¼ (5)
dw 2 TV
UV ¼ (8)
p
D and dw denote the equivalent diameters of unit cell and of
PVD, respectively. Uv > 50 %:
Tr is the dimensionless time factor of radial consolidation  
8 TV p2
defined by: UV ¼ 1  exp  (9)
p2 4
cr  t
Tr ¼ (6) Tv denotes the time factor of vertical drainage:
D2
cv  t
where t denotes the time. Tv ¼ (10)
H2
For the vertical consolidation problem, the differential
equation of one-dimensional consolidation for the excess pore where H is the drainage distance that is equal half of the thick-
pressure is written (Terzaghi 1943): ness of specimen drained at top and bottom sides.

FIG. 2 Types of performed oedometer tests.


ON JEBALI ET AL. ON IMPROVEMENT OF TUNIS SOFT SOIL 5

The applied vertical load was doubled at each increment


FIG. 3 Impervious membrane covering the porous stone. until the maximum required load is attained (50, 100, 200, 400,
800 kPa). The specimen was again unloaded. At the end of the
test, the sample was carefully removed, then its thickness and
water content were measured.
Series 1 (VD): It included two standard oedometer tests
performed according to XP P 94-90-1 (AFNOR 1997). Each test
was carried out on a cylindrical sample of saturated soil with
70 mm diameter and 19 mm thickness. The soil sample was
logged in a metal ring and was placed on a porous stone. The
loading cap also has a porous stone, so the sample was sand-
wiched between two porous stones at the top and bottom of the
sample to allow vertical drainage (VD) (Fig. 2a). When prepar-
ing the sample, filter papers were placed between the soil and
the porous stones. The sample was then placed in the consolida-
tion cell that was mounted a testing apparatus. Water was
added into the cell around the sample, so the sample remains
Studied Soil saturated during the test.
Tunis soft soil specimens investigated in this study were Series 2 (RD): It included two oedometer tests performed
extracted from the Sejoumi’s lagoon at depth of 17.25 m. Those on Tunis soft soil improved by a single geodrain (Mebradrain
assumed undisturbed samples are gray colored, having a charac- 88) of sizes (thickness ¼ 0.5 cm, width ¼ 1 cm, and
teristic smell and containing shell debris. From the grain size length ¼ 19 mm). The portion of geodrain was placed before the
analysis performed by hydrometer and sieve methods in accor- placement of soft soil sample. Hence, the disturbance of soft soil
dance with standards NF P 94-056 (AFNOR 1995a) and NFP and consequent smear zone are not taken into account in the
94-057 (AFNOR 1995b), it was found that Tunis soft soil present study. In those tests, only radial drainage (RD) was
presents 85 % of particles with dimension less than 80 lm; it
also includes non-negligible fraction of silt (Fig. 1).
Atterberg limits’ tests had been performed according to the FIG. 4 Tunis soft soil improved by geodrain.
NF P 94-051(AFNOR 1995c) on extracted specimen. Obtained
results in Table 1 indicate that the tested Tunis soft soil is mod-
erately plastic and has medium consistency.

Consolidation Tests
Three series of oedometer tests were carried out on the
extracted Tunis soft soil specimens (Fig. 2). Those tests con-
sisted in gradually applied increments of vertical load subjected
to the specimen and measurements of the settlement versus
time. For each increment load, the decrease in thickness of the
sample versus time was recorded. Duration of the applied incre-
ment of load depends on the soil and its consolidation proper-
ties; it often required 24 h, which was considered a sufficient
time for the primary consolidation that ends when constant set-
tlement is observed. Accordingly, the creep settlement is not
addressed in the present study, which only focused on the pri-
mary consolidation. The next increment of load was applied
(roughly the double of previous load) up to the maximum load
(25, 50, 100, 200 kPa).
When the primary consolidation at prescribed stress level
was completed (200 kPa) the sample was unloaded in one or
several steps until the increment of load of 25 kPa was dis-
mounted and the swelling of specimen can be measured.
6 Geotechnical Testing Journal

TABLE 2 Values of compression and swelling indices of Tunis soft


FIG. 5 Standard oedometer test results of series 1. soil.

Series of Tests 1: VD 2: RD 3: V&RD


Cc 0.16 0.16 0.30
Cs 0.022 0.022 0.023

From this typical oedometer curve in (e-logr0 ) plan, compression


and swelling indexes and preconsolidated stress are determined.
The initial void ratio e(0) is equal to 0.85 for the three series.
The curves of all performed oedomter tests in the three
Series (1, 2, and 3) plotted in (e-logr0 ) plan are shown in Fig. 5.
Measured compression Cc and swelling Cs indices are deter-
mined from the three series of tests (VD, RD, and V&RD) and
plotted in Fig. 6. Table 2 summarizes the obtained values of Cc
and Cs. It has been noticed that the compression index obtained
from series 3 (V&RD) is roughly the double of that recoded in
series 1 (VD) and 2 (RD). This can be explained by the allowed
allowed; vertical drainage was prevented by means of an imper- vertical and radial drainage paths from which follows enhanced
vious membrane, which covered the porous stone at the top consolidation of the compressible soil. From Table 2, it is under-
and the bottom sides of the specimen (Figs. 2b and 3). stood that the swelling is only attributed to vertical infiltration
Series 3 (V&RD): It included oedometer tests performed on of water during unloading of samples.
Tunis soft soil improved by a single geodrain (Mebradrain 88)
type sized identical to that used in Series 2. In those
tests, the vertical and radial drainage were both allowed (Figs. 2c Study of Three Dimensional (3D)
and 4). Consolidation
Results of standard oedometer test carried out on Tunis soft
soil (series 1) are displayed in Fig. 5. They show the variation of COEFFICIENTS OF CONSOLIDATION
void ratio e plotted as a function of the vertical effective stress in The coefficient of vertical and radial consolidation cv and cr
the logarithmic scale for loading-unloading-reloading sequences. were determined from the evolution of settlement versus time

FIG. 6
Oedometer curves obtained from three
experimental series.
ON JEBALI ET AL. ON IMPROVEMENT OF TUNIS SOFT SOIL 7

levels of load (50 to 800 kPa) plotted in Fig. 8. This result shows
FIG. 7 Determination of cr by Casagrande’s method. a decreased trend of cr and cv as the consolidation stress
increases.

HYDRAULIC CONDUCTIVITIES
Vertical and radial hydraulic conductivities (kv and kr) are
determined by the variable head permeability test. In fact, oed-
ometer apparatus (in series 1 and 2) is equipped with a conven-
tional measuring device (tubing connected to the base of the
specimen). The measurements are performed for different levels
of applied load from 100 to 800 kPa (100, 200, 400, and
800 kPa). The minimum value of 100 kPa was chosen to avoid
any swelling of the specimen when subjected to moderate con-
solidation stress.
Fig. 9 shows the variations of vertical and radial hydraulic
conductivities in function of applied load. It is noticed that each
permeability decreases when the consolidation stress increases
for each increment of recorded loading (from 50 to 800 kPa). in similar trend as observed for the respective coefficients of
The results obtained from series 1 and 2: cv and cr were deter- consolidation.
mined by the logarithmic method, which uses the plot of sample Fig. 10 shows opposite variations of the ratios cr/cv and kr/kv
thickness of sample versus the logarithm of time: log (t) (Casa- when the consolidation stress varies from 100 to 800 kPa.
grande 1938). Hence, as shown for example in Fig. 7, one can Variation of ratio cr/cv in function of the consolidation
determine t50 that is the time corresponding to 50 % of primary stress shows that as the applied load increases the ratio cr/cv
consolidation. Fig. 7 illustrates an example of determination of decreases. The rate in decrease of coefficient cr is greater
cr by the Casagrande’s (logarithmic) method for an applied load than that recorded for coefficient cv. In fact, the ratio cr/cv
of 100 kPa. equals 36 for a consolidation stress of 100 kPa and slows
Coefficient of vertical consolidation cv has been determined down up to 12 when the consolidations stress equals
from tests performed in series 1 (VD) and the coefficient of 800 kPa.
radial consolidation cr has been determined from the test per- Fig. 10 also shows the variation of ratio kr/kv in function of
formed in series 2 (RD) by the Casagrande’s method for all the effective consolidation stress. It is noticed that this ratio is

FIG. 8
Coefficients of consolidation cr and cv versus
consolidation stress.
8 Geotechnical Testing Journal

FIG. 9
Radial and vertical coefficient of permeability versus
consolidation stress.

variable when the applied load increases. The rate in decrease settlement at different levels of applied load in series 3 (case of
for kv is greater than that recorded for kr. It is also remarked vertical and radial drainage, V&RD):
that the kr/kv ratio increases with the consolidation stress. Ratio
sðtÞ
kr/kv is equal to 4 for the consolidation stress of 100 kPa and UðtÞ ¼ (11)
s1
tends to 12 when the consolidation stress equals 800 kPa.
Obtained results show that the assumption made by many where s(t) and s1 denote the settlements at given time, t, and at
authors, e.g., cr/cv ¼ kr/kv is only valid at high levels of consoli- the end of consolidation, respectively.
dation stress (Jia and Chai 2010). The second method consists in calculating U by the Caril-
lo’s Eq 1. The radial degree of consolidation Ur is estimated
from the experimental results of series 2 (case of radial consoli-
DEGREE OF CONSOLIDATION dation RC) and Eq 3. The vertical consolidation Uv is obtained
In this paper, the global degree of consolidation U(t) is pre- from recorded results in series 1 (case of vertical consolidation
dicted by two methods. The first one uses the measured VC) by using Eqs 8 and 9.

FIG. 10
Ratios kr/kv and cr/cv versus consolidation stress.
ON JEBALI ET AL. ON IMPROVEMENT OF TUNIS SOFT SOIL 9

FIG. 11
Variation of global degree of consolidation.

Figs. 11a, 11b, 11c, and 11d illustrate the variation of global similar test to the second one where horizontal and vertical
degree of consolidation U in function of time for vertical con- drainage were allowed. Measurements of coefficients of per-
solidation stress of 100, 200, 400, and 800 kPa. meability kv and kr were determined by the variable head
For applied loads (100, 200, 400, and 800 kPa), it is noted permeability test. In addition, coefficients of vertical and
that the degree of consolidation as predicted by the Carillo’s radial coefficients of consolidation cv and cr were determined
theory reaches 100 % at a time less than 24 h, while the global from the evolution in time of settlement at different levels of
degree of consolidation U, estimated from Eq 11 by using meas- consolidation stress. Comparison between the ratios kr/ kv
urements of Series 3 results, reaches 100 % in 24 h. and cr/cv demonstrated that equality between the two ratios
One can also noticed that using the Carillo’s theory, a lower only happens at high level of stress consolidation, contrarily
degree of consolidation, which starts from 10 %, is predicted; to the common assumption made in previous studies. Pre-
however, when using simple approximate methods by consider- dictions of the global degree of consolidation showed that
ing recorded measures from series 3, higher degrees of consoli- the Carillo’s theory leads to overestimated results with
dation starting from 70 % are obtained. Comparing the respect to predictions from recorded settlements. Further-
recorded and predicted global degree of consolidation U, it fol- more, the effect of vertical and radial consolidations from
lows that the evolution of global degree of consolidation U pre- the observed global consolidation of improved Tunis soft
dicted by the Carillo’s theory is overestimated with respect to soils was discussed. Subsequent researches were conducted to
that deduced from the recorded settlement from series 3. The study the soft soil creep, such as the study carried out by
final global consolidation degree U is identical using the two Mitchell and Soga (2007), who found that different soil types
methods.
exhibit viscoelastic behavior with varying amounts of time-
dependent deformation, as exhibited by secondary compres-
Conclusions sion or creep. Moreover, they showed that more plastic clay
This paper presented an experimental study conducted on soil results in more pronounced viscoelastic behavior. In
Tunis soft soil, in which three types of oedometer tests were addition, the specimens with higher plasticity indices exhib-
executed: first, a standard oedometer test; second, an oedom- ited more volumetric strain in the steady-state creep rates.
eter test on soil specimen improved by a geodrain element Due to this, the creep behavior of Tunis soft soil should be
during which vertical drainage was prevented; and third, a studied in forthcoming research work.
10 Geotechnical Testing Journal

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Conference on Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineer-


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Jia, R., 2010, “Consolidation Behavior of Ariake Clay Under
the soil mechanics laboratory of the National Engineering
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