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SCHOOL OF CIVIL & RESOURCE ENGINEERING

GEOMECHANICS CIVL 2122


PART 1 COMPRESSION AND CONSOLIDATION

PROFESSOR MARTIN FAHEY

SCHOOL OF CIVIL & RESOURCE ENGINEERING NOTE ON PRINTING THESE NOTES: The notes are organised for printing double-sided. For most sections, the Figure on the right-hand page should have the same number as the Section text on the left hand page. Thus, Figure 3 should be on the right-hand page, facing Section 3 on the left-hand page, and so on.

Geomechanics (CIVL 2122)

Compression and Consolidation

Table of Contents 1. Some Basic Soil Properties ............................................................................................................1 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 2. 2.1 2.2 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. Origin .................................................................................................................................1 Rock weathering.............................................................................................................1 Soil Classification ..............................................................................................................1 Soil density .....................................................................................................................2 Darcys Law.......................................................................................................................3 Range of permeability values.............................................................................................3

Water Flow in Soil: Permeability ...............................................................................................3

The Principle of Effective Stress ...................................................................................................5 Calculating the Initial Vertical Effective Stress in the Ground .....................................................7 Soil Compressibility.......................................................................................................................9 Settlement Calculations: Normally Consolidated Layer..............................................................11 Settlement Calculations: Over-Consolidated Layer.....................................................................13 Pre-loading to reduce settlement..................................................................................................15 The Consolidation Process...........................................................................................................17 Multi-Cell Analog ........................................................................................................................19 Solution of the Consolidation Problem: Terzaghi Solution .........................................................21 Terzaghis Solution (Contd).........................................................................................................23 Calculating Consolidation Times.................................................................................................25 Laboratory Compression / Consolidation Testing .......................................................................27 Interpretation of the Compression Curve.....................................................................................29 Determining the coefficient of consolidation cv (assuming no creep) .........................................31 Square Root Time Method: Allowing for Creep .........................................................................33 Measuring Consolidation Parameters: Rowe Cell .......................................................................35 Typical Results of Rowe Cell Test ..............................................................................................37 Capillary Effects and Suction ......................................................................................................39 20.1 Air entry pressure.............................................................................................................39 Suction in a Drying Soil...............................................................................................................41 Measuring Air Entry (Suction) Value for Soil.............................................................................43

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1.
1.1

Some Basic Soil Properties


Origin

Most soils are produced by the breakdown (weathering) of rocks. The principal exceptions are those of biological origin e.g. offshore soils often consist of the remains of the skeletons of tiny marine organisms, or of the shells of such organisms, and are hence composed largely of calcium carbonate (CaCO3), and are called calcareous soils or carbonate soils (these two terms are almost, but not completely, synonymous). In some offshore regions influenced by deposition from major river systems (e.g. in the Gulf of Mexico, around the mouth of the Mississippi, or off Brazil, around the mouth of the Amazon, the soils can consist of clays of terrestrial origin, washed out by the river). 1.2 Rock weathering

The process of rock breakdown to form soil is termed rock weathering. This is either: Mechanical weathering the physical breakdown that occurs due to mechanical forces (ice expanding in cracks, rocks grinding together, erosion by action of water, heating-cooling cycles, etc). The rock is broken into smaller and smaller particles, but the original rock minerals are not changed. This produces (in order of decreasing size) cobbles (> 60mm), gravel (60mm 2 mm), sand (2 mm to 60 m) and silt (60 m to 2 m). It is very difficult to break down soil to finer than silt size by mechanical breakdown. Chemical weathering where the actual minerals in the parent rock are changed, by chemical rotting e.g. by the action of oxygen and water, particularly in warm humid climates. This forms completely new minerals called clay. Clay particles are platey in structure (much smaller in one dimension than in the other two like cornflakes), but silts, sands, gravels, etc are more rounded in aspect ratio (not that much difference between maximum and minimum dimensions). Clays are actually quite complex, with complex electro-chemical forces between the grains. They have very high specific surface area the surface area per unit weight (e.g. the clay mineral montmorillonite can have hundreds of m2 in surface area per gram of material). Since many of the particle interactions are surface effects, these are very important for clay minerals. Soil Classification

1.3

Soils are classified on the basis of: Size (as above). Determined using a series of sieves of decreasing mesh size (down to 60 m) and sedimentation methods (from about 100 m down to about 2m; below 2m, the material is defined as clay, and, for clay, size does not mean much. Fine grained soils (silts and clays) are also classified according to plasticity properties (effectively, how well they absorb water). The plasticity properties are called the Atterberg Limits, which are water contents at which the soil changes from a viscous liquid state to a plastic solid state (the liquid limit, wL), and from a plastic solid state to a brittle solid state (the plastic limit, wp). The difference between these is the plasticity index, Ip = wL wp.

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1.4

Soil density

The density of the soil particles themselves is denoted s (the soil particle density), and for many soils, this is between 2.6 and 2.7 t/m3. The density of water w is 1 t/m3. The relative density of the soil particles is therefore Gs = s/w (being a ratio, this is just a dimensionless number). As we are generally dealing with soil on the earths surface (and not on the moon, or in a centrifuge with elevated g-level), we are usually interested in the forces in soil, and hence we are more interested in weight than density, where weight is simply .g (and g, the acceleration due to the earths gravity, is 9.81 m/s2). Thus, instead of using density all the time, we use unit weight (where = .g, and has units of kN/m3). The unit weight of water, w, is therefore 9.81 kN/m3. The unit weight of quartz (the mineral that many sands are comprised of) is about 26 kN/m3 (that is, a solid 1 m3 block of silica would weigh 26 kN.) If a 1 m3 container is filled with dry silica sand, the weight would be considerably less than the weight of a solid block of silica, due to the air-filled voids between the particles. The basic means of expressing the density of packing is to use the voids ratio (e):
Vv , Vs where Vv is the volume of the voids, and Vs is the volume of the solids (soil particles). Note that e can be greater than 1 (it very often is for clay soils). e=

So, for our 1 m3 box of dry sand, the total weight of the soil in this state is the dry unit weight (d): d = s 1+ e If the voids are now completely filled with water, the box will of course be heavier. The weight would now correspond to the saturated unit weight (sat). + e w sat = s 1+ e The wetness of a soil is described (in civil engineering) by on a weight basis: W w = w (often expressed as %) Ws (i.e. as the weight of water divided by the weight of the dry soil. This is found by weighing the wet sample first, then drying it in the oven, then weighing the dry soil). From these relationships, we can see that:
d = sat 1+ w

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2.

Water Flow in Soil: Permeability

The parameter that describes how easy or difficult it is for water to flow through soil is correctly called the hydraulic conductivity, but more commonly (in civil engineering), called the permeability (k). (This is analogous to thermal conductivity for heat flow in solids, or electrical conductivity for electrical current flow. The inverse of conductivity is resistivity, but we tend not to use this in water flow). Flow of water in soils occurs in response to a difference in total head between two points (or more precisely, it occurs in response to a gradient in total head, with flow being down gradient in the direction of reducing total head.) Figure 1 gives the definition of total head. What it says is that fluid flow depends on both the pressure in the water at a point, and the elevation of the point (above some arbitrary datum). In order to combine these two, the most convenient is to express the pressure as pressure head (hp), which can be thought of as the height that water would rise to in a standpipe (tube) inserted into the soil to the point of interest as this height has units of metres, it can be combined directly with the elevation head (he), which also has units of metres, to give total head (ht). 2.1 Darcys Law

Figure 2 shows a circular container, with cross sectional area A, containing sand of uniform density (uniform packing), confined between two mesh screens, at a distance L apart. The total head difference between points M and N is ht. The total flow per unit time (Q) is given as:
h t (and i is the hydraulic gradient). L In this equation, the quantity Q is in units of m3/s, the area A is in m2, the hydraulic gradient i is dimensionless (its a length divided by a length) and time t is in seconds. So k has units of m/s.

Q = kAit , where i =

If we divided both sides by A, we end up with Q/A on the left-hand side. This has units of m/s, and represents the average water velocity v through the tube if there was not soil present. We can then re-state Darcys law in its simplest form: v = ki This is called the Darcy velocity, or appartent velocity, because it assumes that flow occurs across the total cross-sectional area (it ignores the fact that there is soil present). The true velocity or seepage velocity is given as: 1+ e vs = v e 2.2 Range of permeability values

The value of the permeability k has an enormous range: from maybe 1 m/s for gravels (i.e. 100 m/s), down to 10-9 to 10-10 m/s for clays thats a range of 10 orders of magnitude (the permeability of clay is maybe 10,000,000,000 times less than that of gravel!).

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"standpipes"

ht(A-B) hpA A htA heA htB hpB

Though the water pressure at B is greater than at A (hpB is greater than hpA), the total head at A is greater than at B, so flow would tend to be from A to B. The hydraulic gradient between A and B is i

B heB

= ht(A-B)/LA-B

Arbitrary datum ("zero") for elevation


Figure 1. Definition of elevation head, pressure head, and total head. Flow occurs in direction of reducing total head.
Head drops at uniform rate if soil is uniform Standpipes

ht(M-N)

htM M

so i l
htN
LM-N
Tube cross-sectional area = A

Arbitrary datum ("zero") for elevation

Figure 2. Flow of water governed by Darcys Law

For this setup, the total head loss from M to N is ht(M-N). The hydraulic gradient from M to N is:
iMN = h t ( M N ) LM N

and the flow rate through the system is: Q = k A i t = k A

h t ( M N ) LM N

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3.

The Principle of Effective Stress

Consolidation refers to the process of increasing the density of a saturated soil by applying external stress to squeeze out the water. There are two major issues: for a particular stress increment, how much compression will result; and for a particular stress increment, how long will it take for this compression to occur. The amount of compression depends on the compressibility of the soil, and the time required depends on the consolidation properties. We shall describe the process using the spring/piston/water analog (a mechanical model) shown in the lower part of Figure 3, which represents the soil structure shown in the upper part. The soil structure or soil skeleton is represented by the spring. At all stages, the applied load is shared between the spring and the water. The equilibrium of the piston requires that: P = F + u. A where P is the applied force; F is the force taken by the spring; u is the pressure in the water; and A is the cross-sectional area of the piston. This can be re-written as: F = P u. A which states that the force in the spring (soil) is the applied force less the force due to the pore water. If we treat all forces as being spread over the cross-sectional area, then:

Since force per unit area is stress, we can write the equilibrium of the piston in terms of vertical stresses:

F P = u A A

v = v u
where v is the stress carried by the soil skeleton (the effective stress), v is the total stress applied to the soil, and u is the pore water pressure (or just the pore pressure). This is the Principle of Effective Stress, and is the basis of much of soil mechanics.

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Total stress

Geomechanics (CIVL 2122)

Stress between the soil particles (effective stress ) Pressure in the pore water u

= + u

Valve shut: Open at t = 0 P

PRINCIPAL OF EFFECTIVE STRESS: Mechanical Analog Forces on piston balance each other
Area = A

P (force applied at t=0)

Pressure u

u (water pressure) F (force in spring) P = F + uA, which gives: P/A = F/A + u In stress terms:

= + u
Figure 3. Principle of Effective Stress

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4.

Calculating the Initial Vertical Effective Stress in the Ground

The process of soil compression is highly non-linear (the spring load-compression relationship is not linear) i.e. to work out how much compression we get when we apply a load (resulting in a change in effective stress), we must know the starting value of the vertical effective stress.
Total vertical stress v: the weight per unit plan area of everything above a point in the ground, including soil and water (i.e. what is the total weight of a column of soil, with a base plan area of 1 m2, and a height equal to the distance from the point to the surface). Can find it if we know the total unit weight (sat if its saturated, or just if its not). Initial pore water pressure uo: for hyrostatic conditions, this is found by knowing how far below the water table the point is, and knowing that the unit weight of water is w.

The effective vertical stress v is then:

v = v u o
In the example shown in Figure 4, the soil above the water table is assume to have a unit weight = 17 kN/m3, and the saturated soil below the water table to have a unit weight of sat = 21 kN/m3. The calculation of the effective vertical stress is shown in the Figure. We also need to know the initial void ratio (eo). We can find this by taking an undisturbed tube sample from the ground, and measuring the total density and the water content, which allows us to find the dry density (or dry unit weight). From this, the initial void ratio can be determined.

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water table The water table represents the level that water would eventually be at in a hole dug in the ground, where the water pressure is hydrostatic - i.e. where the water pressure increases uniformly with depth in exactly the same way that it increases in an open body of water (e.g. a lake).

2m 7m 5m A

= 17

kN/m3
Depth below water table zw (m)

Water pressure u

sat = 21 kN/m3

Hydrostatic conditions:

u = w.zw

Hydrostatic means exactly that - static - i.e. no flow. That means that the total head is equal at all depths (the pressure head increases with depth, but the elevation head reduces with depth). So, it follows that for vertical flow to occur, the water pressure distribution must be different from hydrostatic. This difference is what we will call later excess pore pressure. For Point A: Total vertical stress Pore (water) pressure

v = 2 x 17 + 5 x 21

= 139 kPa

u = 5 x 10 = 50 kPa (w = 9.81 kN/m3 10 kN/m3) = 89 kPa

Therefore, effective vertical stress v Column of sand, 1 m x 1 m in plan, 10 m high d = 16.25 kN/m3. Total weight = 162.5 kN, resting on 1 m2 base.

Actual contact stress on a plane in the soil is ?

Vertical stress = 162.5 kN/m2 (kPa).

Actual contact stress on floor is >>> 162.5 kN/m2.

Figure 4. Calculating vertical effective stress in the ground

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5.

Soil Compressibility

After a soil forms by sedimentation from a slurry, the sedimented voids ratio may be very high. The exact value depends heavily the clay content, and the type of clay mineral present. Say that the voids ratio at this stage is 3.0. We can imagine the structure of the clay at this stage to be very open,with the voids volume being 3 times the solids volume. (This is like a very loosely packed box of cornflakes). This structure is very compressible that is, a very small stress applied to the surface will cause a large amount of settlement. (This requires that water be squeezed out, and thus may be a slow process; the time required to reach equilibrium will be dealt with later). However, if further equal increments of stress are applied, the amount of compression under successive increments reduces. The soil becomes progressively less compressible with increasing stress. Thus, the compression curve is highly nonlinear. This is illustrated in the upper part of Figure 5. If the stress is reduced at any stage, some swelling occurs (water is sucked back into the sample), but the initial state is never recovered. Most of the compression is irrecoverable. If the state lies on the initial compression curve, the soil is said to be normally consolidated. If it has swelled back from a higher stress state, it is overconsolidated. The ratio of the present effective stress (v) to the past maximum effective stress (c) is called the overconsolidation ratio (OCR). Thus, for point A in Figure 5, v is about 10 kPa, c is about 108 kPa (point B), and hence at point A, the OCR is about 11. When plotted on a semi-logarithmic plot, the initial loading points tend to lie on a straight line. This shows in this case that to reduce the voids ratio by 0.6 from 3 to 2.4 requires a stress increase of 0.9 kPa, but to reduce it by a further 0.6 requires a 9 kPa increase, with the next 0.6 reduction requiring an increase of 90 kPa, etc. The swelling-recompression data also plot on straight lines, which are flatter than the initial loading line and parallel to each other. The Compression Index (Cc) is defined as the gradient (magnitude) of the initial loading curve:

Cc =

(e o e1 ) change in voids ratio e = = change in log of effective stress log 10 ( ) log 10 ( 1 ) log 10 ( 1 ) o o

Similarly, the swelling/recompression index (Cs or Cr ) is the gradient of the swelling and recompression lines. In Figure 5, the value of Cc is 0.6, and Cs = Cr = 0.12.

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2.6

Void ratio (e)

2.2

1.8

1.4

C A B D

0.6 0 100 200 300 400 500 Effective vertical stress 'v (kPa)

2.6

Gradient = Compression Index (Cc)

Cc
First loading (starting from slurry) Unloading and reloading

2.2 Void ratio (e)

1.8

1.4

A Cs, Cr

C B
D

Gradient = Swelling Index (Cs) or Recompression Index (Cr)

0.6 0.1 1 10 Effective vertical stress 'v (kPa) 100 1000

Figure 5. Compression of a soil from a slurry

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6.

Settlement Calculations: Normally Consolidated Layer

From the previous section, we can calculate the settlement of a normally consolidated soil layer (i.e. where the state is on the initial loading curve) due to any loading increment from:
C h e = = c log10 ( 1 ) o h o 1 + eo 1 + eo where o is the initial effective stress, and 1 is the final value (i.e. v= 1 o). Therefore, we need to know the initial state (effective stress and void ratio) and the increase in effective stress due to the applied load (after all excess pore pressure has dissipated).

Example:. A 2 m thick clay layer is located between 5 and 7 m depth at a site (

Figure 6). There is dense sand (incompressible in comparison to the clay) above and below the clay. Assume the water table is at the surface and hydrostatic conditions, and that the saturated density (sat) of the sand is 18 kN/m3. This gives the initial effective vertical stress on the top of the clay of:
v = v u = sat .z w .z = (18 5) (10 5) = 90 50 = 40 kPa where z is depth, and w (the unit weight of water) is taken as 10 kN/m3, for convenience. If the clay has the same saturated unit weight, the effective stress at the bottom of the layer will be an extra 16 kPa, or 56 kPa. Thus, the average initial vertical stress in the clay (o) is 48 kPa..

Assume that Figure 5 represents the compressibility of the clay, and that it is normally consolidated (natural state lies on the normally consolidated line). For the average vertical stress of 48 kPa, the initial voids ratio (eo) would be 1.391 (shown as point C in Figure 5). Assume that the large structure placed over a very wide area on the surface imposes a vertical stress of 100 kPa. Eventually, this will result in an increase in effective stress (v) of 100 kPa (we shall calculate later how much time it might take for this to happen). Therefore, the new average effective stress (1) at the centre of the clay layer will be 148 kPa (point D in Figure 5). The height change will then be:
C h e 0.6 = = c log10 ( 1 ) = log (48 / 148) = 0.123 o 1+ e (1 + 1.391) 10 h o 1 + eo o (The result is negative since the height and the voids ratio reduces). The result is therefore a height reduction of about 12% of the initial height, or 240 mm.

Note that if the soil was in an overconsolidated state, the same stress increase would give a much lower settlement (because the overconsolidated soil is less compressible). The settlement therefore depends not just on the increase in v, but also on the starting value, and whether the starting state is normally consolidated or overconsolidated.

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Initial conditions

Geomechanics (CIVL 2122)

Total vertical stress v Initial (hydrostatic) pore water pressure u u= 50 kPa 2m Clay layer 60 kPa 70 kPa Sand v = v u v = 40 kPa v = 90 kPa 108 kPa 126 kPa

5m

Sand

48 kPa 56 kPa

After load applied 100 kPa applied at the surface (e.g. embankment built)

5m

Sand

Total stress increases instantly by 100 kPa Pore pressures in the clay increases instantly by 100 kPa Effective stress increases by 100 kPa when all excess pore pressure has dissipated (and the water pressure is again hydrostatic)

2m

Clay layer

After consolidation, effective vertical stress at centre of clay is:

v = 48 + 100 = 148 kPa


Sand

Figure 6. Settlement of a layer of clay due to load (stress) applied at the ground surface

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Compression and Consolidation

7.

Settlement Calculations: Over-Consolidated Layer

For soil in an overconsolidated state, the process of calculating settlement due to an applied increase in vertical stress is similar to that described in the previous section, except that now some of the compression will be along the re-compression line (until the stress reaches the pre-consolidation stress 'c), and then it follows the normal consolidation line. The steps involved are: 1. Determine the initial vertical effective stress 'vo and initial void ratio eo, as before 2. Knowing the additional effective stress that will result from the surface loading, calculate the final vertical effective stress 'vf 3. There are then three possibilities to consider: (a) (b)
'vo = 'c (in which case the soil is actually normally consolidated, so proceed as in previous section) 'vf 'c: in this case the state remains in the overconsolidated state at the end of loading, and the settlement is calculated using the re-compression index only:
e e = Cr log10 vo h = h o 1 + eo vf

(c)

'vo < 'c and 'vf > 'c: in this case, some of the loading is calculated using the recompression index, and the rest using the compression index:

e e = Cr log10 vo + Cc log10 c h = h o 1 + eo vf c Example: Assume the compression diagram shown in Figure 7 represents a 2 m thick layer, with the initial conditions represented by Point A (i.e. eo = 1.178 and 'vo = 30 kPa). Assume that a surface load is applied, resulting in an increase in vertical stress of 290 kPa. This would produce a final effective vertical stress of 'vf = 320 kPa. Assume that the soil is overconsolidated, with preconsolidation pressure (past maximum consolidation pressure) of 'c = 150 kPa.

This case therefore corresponds to (c) above, with the initial stress (Point A) being less than the preconsolidation stress (Point B), and the final stress (Point C) being greater than the preconsolidation stress. Thus, assuming that Cc = 0.6 and Cr = 0.12, as before, the change in void ratio is:
150 30 e = 0.12 log10 + 0.6 log10 = 0.0839 0.1974 = 0.2813 ef = 1.178 0.281 = 0.897 150 320 e 0.281 h = h o = 2000 = 258 mm 1 + eo 2.178 Note, if normally consolidated : 30 0.617 e = 0.6 log10 = 0.617 h = 2000 = 566 mm 320 2.178

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1.3

1.2

A
1.1 Void ratio (e)

30

B
150

C
0.9

320

0.8

0.7 10 100 Effective vertical stress ( 'v) kPa 1000

Figure 7. Example of overconsolidated soil and calculation of settlement

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Compression and Consolidation

8.

Pre-loading to reduce settlement

The recompression index Cr is typically 5-10 times less than the normal compression index Cc, which means in a crude sense that overconsolidated soil is 5-10 times less compressible (5-10 times stiffer) than normally consolidated soil, if all else is equal. If the estimated settlement under a proposed load is excessive (and unacceptable for the proposed structure), something must be done to change the outcome. One possibility is to preload the site. The principle is to apply a preload to the site which, if possible, is equal to, or greater than, the load due to the intended structure. Then, once all settlement due to the preload has occurred (this may be some years!), remove the preload, and allow the soil to swell. Then, build the intended structure.

Example:
Suppose that the situation in the previous section represents the settlements that are calculated due to a structure at the site (a structure that will impose a vertical stress increase of 290 kPa to the site). The calculated settlement (258 mm) is deemed to be unacceptable. The remedy is as follows: Apply a preload to the site that imposes the same load as the intended structure (i.e. an increase in vertical stress of 290 kPa). Once the consolidation due to this preload has been completed, the soil state will have moved from the initial state (Point A) to a final state (Point C), in Figure 8, and a surface settlement of 258 mm will have occurred, as calculated in the previous section. Now remove the preload, and allow swelling to occur. The total vertical stress returns to its initial value, and, after all pore pressures have returned to hydrostatic values, the effective stress will be the same as at the start. The soil will not return along the initial load path (CBA), but will swell along a new swelling line from point C i.e. CD. We can calculate the amount of swelling from:

320 e = 0.12 log10 = 0.1234 ef = 0.897 + 0.123 = 1.020 (Point D) 30 e 0.123 h = h o = (2000 258) = 113 mm (swelling to point D) 1 + eo 1.897 Now, when the structure load is applied (290 kPa), the state will move from point D back to point C, along the recompression line, and the settlement experienced by the structure will be more or less the same as the swelling just calculated i.e. 113 mm. So the structure is now only subjected to a settlement of 113 mm, compared to 258 mm for the previous case (and compared to 566 mm if the soil had been normally consolidated). What we are doing with this process is effectively increasing the preconsolidation pressure to be equal to, or greater than, the maximum pressure that will result from the structure loading. In some cases, we cant quite preload enough, but provided the preload gives some increase in the preconsolidation pressure, the result will be less settlement than would have occurred otherwise.

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1.3

1.2

A
1.1 Void ratio (e)

30

B
150

D 30
1

C
0.9

320

0.8

0.7 10 100 Effective vertical stress ( 'v) kPa 1000

Figure 8. Preloading (A-B-C) and removal of the preload (C-D) takes the initial state to Point D. Now the load resulting from the structure will take the soil from Point D back to Point C

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Compression and Consolidation

9.

The Consolidation Process

We shall use our simple single cell analog to examine what happens in a consolidation event.
Starting point: Spring is uncompressed, and water pressure is zero. There is no external load, and the drainage valve is shut. At time t = 0: Apply a load P to the piston, keeping valve shut. The water is incompressible, so no settlement occurs. Therefore, the spring cannot compress, and hence it carries no load. The load P is completely supported by the water pressure u, and the spring force F is zero:

P F = v and v = = 0 A A Open valve: Water starts to leak from the aperture, allowing settlement to begin, so that the spring starts to compress, and starts to take some of the load. At all stages, the effective stress principle holds: i.e. v = v + u the applied force is shared between the spring and the water. At t = 0 : u = As the spring force (v) increases, the water pressure u decreases by an equal amount. The pressure differential across the drainage value therefore reduces, and this reduces the velocity of flow. Thus the rate of settlement reduces with increasing time. This is illustrated in
Figure 9.

Mathematical Analysis of Problem:


We can write down expressions for the process, provided we know the spring stiffness (E) and the relationship between flow through the aperture and the water pressure. These are:
d dQ A.dh = E; for the spring and = = k .u for flow through the aperture, or dh h o dt dt d E dh k .u and = = dh h o dt A where dQ is the quantity of flow through the aperture in time increment dt, and dh is the compression of the spring due to a stress (force) increment d. The flow equation states that the rate of flow depends on the pressure differential (note this is not correct for a small aperture, but we will use this assumption). The solution for this problem can be obtained as:

( ) u = (e )
t

= 1 e t , and

k.E A These are exponential functions, with increasing exponentially from zero at t=0 to at t and u reducing from u = at t=0 to zero at t . where the constant =

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Geomechanics (CIVL 2122)

Valve shut: Open at t = 0 P

PRINCIPAL OF EFFECTIVE STRESS: Mechanical Analog Forces on piston balance each other
Area = A

P (force applied at t=0)

Pressure u

u (water pressure) F (force in spring) P = F + uA, which gives: P/A = F/A + u In stress terms:

= + u

Load applied at time t = 0 FORCE

Total force P

u
Force in spring (exponential increase) Force supported by water (exponential decrease) (u.A) TIME Settlement of piston

SETTLEMENT

Figure 9. Single cell mechanical analog for the soil consolidation process

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Compression and Consolidation

10.

Multi-Cell Analog

In the single cell analog, the only restriction to flow is at the piston i.e. at the sample boundary. However, in a soil sample, restriction on flow occurs within the whole body (i.e. there is internal restriction on flow). A more realistic analog is therefore where there are many cells, stacked on top of each other. Each cell connects with the one above via a small aperture in the piston. The springs are all of the same stiffness. The water pressures are initially hydrostatic and hence no flow is occurring.
At time t = 0: Apply a load P to the top piston, with the top valve shut. The pressures in the cells all increase by the same amount (u = P/A), to the line shown as t=0 in Figure 10. There is no tendency for flow between cells, since the pressure gradient is still hydrostatic (we have to remove the hydrostatic component to decide if there is a gradient in total head).

When the top valve is opened, the pressure differential across the top valve causes flow. However, only when the pressure in the top cell drops by a small amount is there any pressure differential between it and the second cell. Only then will flow begin and this is initially at a very slow rate, because the pressure difference is small. Gradually the effect begins to be felt at lower cells. At the time shown as t2, some effect has been felt at all but the lowest cell. In this Figure, the points represent the pressures in the cells, but the lines give the pressures if we had an infinite number of cells (i.e. if the column was filled with saturated soil, rather than discrete cells). We can represent what would happen if we had a column full of soil by the lower diagram. The pressures (heads) in the soil at different levels are measured by the standpipes. When P is applied, all the standpipes give the same height (same total head), but as drainage begins to reduce the top pressures, the standpipes will show different levels, indicating internal hydraulic gradients, and hence internal flows. The difference in water pressure between the initial level (before consolidation starts) and the final level (when all consolidation has ceased) is the excess pore pressure. Note that at the drained boundary, the excess pore pressure reduces to zero instantaneously (as soon as the drainage valve is opened). The point farthest from the drained boundary is the slowest to consolidate. Plots of excess pore pressure at any particular time are called pore pressure isochrones.

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P/A = Water pressure increase at t = 0

WATER PRESSURE (u)

t3 t DEPTH (z)

t2

t1

t0

Water pressures at centres of cells at times shown

Hydrostatic value (before load applied, and at time = )

Level in all standpipes when P first applied (to)

u=P/A

Intermediate stage Final level in all standpipes (t) (= level before any load applied)

Clay

Figure 10. Multi-cell analog for consolidation

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Compression and Consolidation

11.

Solution of the Consolidation Problem: Terzaghi Solution

When a load is applied to a clay layer (as in Figure 6), a long time may be required for settlement to be completed. During this stage, the pore pressure decreases gradually, while the effective stress increases at the same rate, and the soil layer compresses (settlement occurs) at an ever-reducing rate. Terzaghi solved the problem of the time required for this to occur, by making some assumptions: the permeability (k) of the soil does not change as the effective stress increases; the compressibility (Eo) of the soil does not change as the effective stress increases; Darcys Law applies (flow velocity is proportional to hydraulic gradient); the change in thickness of the layer is relatively small compared to the initial thickness. If the initial state of stress is reasonably high compared to the loading increment, then these assumptions are reasonable (the first effectively assumes that there is not a large change in voids ratio in the increment; the second assumes that the ev curve is linear over the increment of effective stress). Terzaghis solution is written in terms of the permeability of the soil (k), and the compressibility (Eo), just as our solution to the single cell analog was written. These parameters are combined into a single parameter called the coefficient of consolidation (cv):
kE o (units are m2/year or m2/second) w where w (in kN/m3) is the unit weight of water (= w x 9.81). (This term appears because the solution is in terms of pore pressure (u) rather than the head (h) used in Darcys Law). cv =

To make the solution general for all problems, Terzaghi used normalised parameters. The normalised depth Z is explained in Figure 11 (Z varies from 0 at a drained boundary to 1 at the maximum distance from a drained boundary). The normalised pore pressure dissipation (Uv) at any particular depth Z is:
u i u( t ) ui uf where u(t) is the pore pressure at a particular depth at time t, and ui and uf are the initial and final values (the value just after the load is applied, and the value after all consolidation has ceased). U varies from 0 at t=0 to 1 (or 100%) at the end of consolidation. Uv = The normalised degree of settlement U or Uav = = settlement at time t eventual total settlement

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Sand

d is maximum distance to a drained boundary

Sand

d Clay layer

Two-way One-way drainage : layer drainage : layer depth is 2d depth is d

Sand

Rock (impermeable)

Z = z/d (Z is normalised depth) Z = 0 (drained boundary) z = depth (m) d Z = 0.5

Z = 1 (farthest point from drained boundary)

Z = 0.5 Z = 0 (drained boundary)

Normalised pore pressure: U = percentage of excess pore pressure dissipated at time t Normalised settlement: Uav = settlement at time t as percentage of final total settlement (Note: Normalised settlement = Average U) Normalised time factor Tv = cv.t/d 2

Figure 11. Normalised parameters used in Terzaghis solution

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Compression and Consolidation

12.

Terzaghis Solution (Contd)

The time required for consolidation depends on: the consolidation parameter cv (i.e. the combination of permeability and stiffness); the maximum distance to a drained boundary, d (Figure 11). These are incorporated into a dimensionless time factor Tv:
c t Tv = v (dimensionless) d2 The solution is (where m = 0, 1, 2, .. , and M = 0.5 (2m + 1)):

Uv = 1

m=0

2 2 sin(MZ )e M Tv for the pore pressure dissipation, and M

U or Uav = 1

m=0

2 M2

2 e M Tv for the settlement (or average pore pressure)

(Note that in Whitlow, there is an error in both of these equations Equations 10.17 & 10.18 in 4th ed.) These equations are used to produce the plots shown in Figure 12. The top figure shows normalised pore pressure isochrones (plots of normalised pore pressure dissipation versus normalised depth Z), for different time factors. This shows that at the drained boundary (Z=0), the pore pressure dissipates instantaneously, but lags behind everywhere else, with the slowest dissipation being at the point farthest from the drained boundary (Z=1). The lower plot shows the same information, but plotted as pore pressure dissipation versus time factor for different points within the mass (different normalised depths Z). The thick black line gives the percentage settlement versus time factor (with the settlement axis on the right). Looking at the settlement curve (the thick black line in the lower plot), we can see that 50% settlement occurs at Tv of 0.2. At this time, only 20% pore pressure dissipation has occurred at Z=1, but 88% has occurred at Z=0.1. But as shown below, the average pore pressure dissipation is equal to 50%.
Z=0 Shaded area represents the average pore pressure dissipation; counting squares in the upper part of Figure 10 shows that this is 50% of the total area: i.e. the average pore pressure dissipation = normalised settlement = 50% at Tv = 0.2 Uv = 0

Tv = 0.2 Z=1 Uv = 100%

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Degree of consolidation (Uv ) (% excess pore pressure dissipated) 100% 0 0.1 Time factor (Tv) shown in box on curve 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0%

0.2 0.3 Normalised depht (Z) 0.4

0.5 0.6 0.7 0.8 0.05 1.5 0.7 0.5 1 0.4 0.35 0.3 0.25 0.15 0.9 0.8 0.6 0.2 Normalised pore pressure dissipation, and normalised settlement, with time. 0% 10% This curve relates to Settlement: Right Hand axis Z = 0.1 Z = 0.2 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% 0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.7 0.8 0.9 1 1.1 Non-dimensionalised time (Time factor, Tv) 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% % final total settlement (Uav) Z = 0.3 Z = 0.4 Z = 0.5 Z = 0.6 Z = 0.7 Z= 1 % Settlement 0% 10% 20%

0.9 1

% excess pore pressure dissipated (Uv)

20%

Figure 12. Terzaghis consolidation solution in graphical form

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0.1

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25

Compression and Consolidation

13.

Calculating Consolidation Times

We can use Terzaghis solution to calculate the consolidation time for practical problems. Take the problem discussed previously in Section 6. The layer thickness is 2 m, but it is two-way drained, so d = 1m. The final effective stress increase is 100 kPa. In Figure 5, the initial and final effective stresses in the centre of the layer (48 and 148 kPa) are shown as points C and D. The voids ratios are 1.391 and 1.0978. From this, the one-dimensional stiffness (Eo) is:
v v 100 = = = 815kPa h h o e (1 + e o ) (1.391 1.0978 ) (1 + 1.391) Assume the permeability k = 1 x 109 m/s (low permeability clayey soil). Then the coefficient of consolidation, cv is:
E = o

k E 1 10 9 815 o = = 8.31 10 8 m 2 s = 2.62 m 2 year 9.81 w So, whats the situation 1 month after the load is applied? This is equivalent to a time factor Tv of: cv = = 0.218 d 12 From the lower plot in Figure 12, the settlement at this time is 53% completed (i.e. 53% of the 200 mm we calculated earlier has occurred after 1 month). We reach 95% settlement at Tv of 1.125 (not shown in Figure 12), which is 1.125/0.218 times longer i.e. 5.16 months.
2

Tv =

cv t

2.62 1 12

Note that at 1 month (Tv of 0.218) the pore pressure dissipation at the centre of the layer (Z=1) is about 26%, which means that there is still 74% of the initial excess pore pressure of 100 kPa left, or 74 kPa. If we had a pore pressure measuring device (a pore pressure transducer) located at this point, it would measure this value plus the final hydrostatic value i.e. 60 + 74 = 134 kPa.

Importance of depth (distance to drained boundary)


Suppose that the layer thickness was 20 m rather than 2 m (then d would be 10 m rather than 1 m d is half the layer thickness because of two-way drainage). Previously, 5.16 months was required to achieve 95% consolidation (i.e. at a time factor of 1.125). Now the time for 95% consolidation is: t 95 = or 100 times longer than previously.

Tv d 2 1.125 10 2 = = 42.9 years cv 2.62

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Sand

d is maximum distance to a drained boundary

d 2m Clay layer Two-way drainage : layer depth = 2d

Sand

Time for any particular degree of consolidation d2. So, if d is doubled, the time increases by factor of 4; if d is increased by factor of 10, time increases by factor of 100.

Embankment

drains

20 m

To speed up consolidation, the best methods involve shortening the drainage path length (the maximum distance to a drained boundary):

For the Narrows Interchange, this was achieved using sand drains installed on a square grid pattern. At Burswood Peninsula (for the railway bridge embankment, and also for the freeway embankment), a plastic drain was used (a wick drain). Here there is about 20 m of soft clay (with cv of less than 10 m2/yr). In both cases, the consolidation is now not one-dimensional (the water flows horizontally towards the drains), but for a drain spacing of 2 m, the consolidation would still be speeded up by about 100.

Figure 13. Importance of layer thickness (drainage path length).

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Compression and Consolidation

14.

Laboratory Compression / Consolidation Testing

Compression and consolidation parameters (Cc, Cs, Cr, c, OCR, cv) are conventionally obtained from laboratory compression/consolidation tests carried out in an oedometer (see Figure 14).

An undisturbed sample is obtained from the base of a borehole using a thin-walled sampling tube (typically 75 mm internal diameter, 3 mm wall thickness, 450 mm long, with sharp cutting edge). Sample is returned to the laboratory. A length of the sample is extruded into a thin-walled steel cutting ring (see Figure), and the sample is trimmed to be exactly the same length as the cutting ring. The trimmings are used to determine the initial water content. The sample and cutting ring are placed into the oedometer, on top of a filter paper placed on top of a de-aired porous disk (typically a ceramic disk or a sintered porous bronze or stainless steel disk). A top piston, with porous disk (de-aired) incorporated is placed on top of the sample (again with a filter paper between the disk and the sample. A succession of loads is applied. Under each increment of load, the load-settlement response is measured (settlement readings are taken at regular times), until all settlement under that increment is complete. Typically, the load is doubled in each increment loading sequence is typically 10, 25, 50, 100, 200, 400, 800 kPa. Generally, at some stage an unloading-reloading loop is conducted, and a final unloading stage is incorporated (e.g., the above loading sequence might be modified to: 10, 25, 50, 100, 200, 100, 50, 100, 200, 400, 800, 400, 200, 100, 50, 25, 10 kPa) At the end of the test, the sample is removed quickly from the apparatus, and the final water content determined. From this, the final void ratio can be found (e = w.Gs). From the height changes in each increment, the final void ratio at the end of each increment can be found by working backwards from the final increment, knowing that e/(1+eo) = h/ho. Therefore, the void ratio (and effective vertical stress) at the end of each increment can be obtained, and a plot prepared of void ratio (e) versus v (plotted on semi-logarithmic axes). From this plot can be obtained:
o Compression index Cc and swelling/recompression indices Cs / Cr. o Preconsolidation stress (past maximum stress) c (Casagrande method) o In situ compression curve (Schmertman method)

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75 mm Steel cutting ring

25 mm

Undisturbed sample

Vertical load Top piston Drainage line

Undisturbed sample

Porous disk (sintered bronze)

Drainage line

Figure 14. Schematic arrangement of oedometer test

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Compression and Consolidation

15.

Interpretation of the Compression Curve

Plot data as void ratio versus log v. Generally, it is not that obvious from this curve where is behaviour changes from overconsolidated to normally consolidated. This change occurs gradually (whereas the idealised behaviour already discussed shows a sudden change). This is mainly due to disturbance of the sample obtained from the ground (in sampling, transportation, and handling). Some manipulation of the curve is required to obtain the parameters of interest.

Find pre-consolidation pressure use method of Casagrande (Figure 15(a)):


o identify point of maximum curvature (Point P), and draw tangent T-T through this point. Draw also a horizontal line P-Q through the point. o Draw the bisector PR of the angle TPQ. o Extend the straight-line portion (the normally consolidated portion) of the measured curve backwards (CBE), and identify the point where this crosses the bisector point S. The stress corresponding to point S is the preconsolidation stress c (sometimes called p as in the diagram from Whitlow).

Use the unload-reload section of the curve to determine the swelling index Cs (identical to the re-compression index Cr). The initial loading section shows gradient greater than this, and also often does not pass through the best estimate of the in situ state (eo and vo).

To reconstruct the in situ curve, use the procedure suggested by Schmertmann (Figure 15(b)).
o Identify the in situ state (eo and vo) and plot on the diagram (point G) o Identify the preconsolidation stress c and draw vertical line at this value o Draw line GH through G parallel to the best fit line through the unload-reload loop AB, and identify the point where it corresponds to the preconsolidation stress (point E) o Calculate 0.42 eo, and draw horizontal line at this value, until it intersects the laboratory normally consolidated curve (point F). Join point F and E. o The bi-linear curve GEF is the best estimate of the in situ curve.

Use the section EF to determine Cc, the compression index.

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Figure 15(a). Casagrandes method for determining the preconsolidation stress (from Whitlow).
eo G

E Cc

Cr

A B

O.42eo vo in situ stress c pre-consolidation stress

Figure 15(b). Re-construction of the in situ compression curve (method of Schmertmann).

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16.

Determining the coefficient of consolidation cv (assuming no creep)

In a consolidation test, a value of the coefficient of consolidation can be determined from the timesettlement data for each loading increment (and each unloading increment). It can be shown from the Terzaghi solution for degree of settlement versus time, that for < 0.6, the settlement-time relationship can be approximated by:
U or U av = 4.Tv

Thus, if the is plotted against Tv, the gradient of the straight line portion will be 2/. If this line is extended through to where = 1.0 (i.e. 100% settlement), the intersection will be Tv = /2 = 0.886, or Tv = /4 = 0.785. (Figure 16(a)). If the soil behaved exactly as the Terzaghi solution assumes, the real data, when plotted as settlement versus square root of time, should have exactly the same shape. For example, assume that the data shown in Figure 16(b) have been obtained on a test on a 25 mm thick sample, with 2-way drainage (d = 12.5 mm), and plotted as actual settlement versus square root time. Extrapolating the straight portion to 100 % settlement (2.2 mm in this case) gives t1 = 4.3 min0.5, or t1 = 18.49 min. The theoretical solution says that this real time corresponds to a time factor Tv = /4 = 0.785. Therefore:
Tv = c v t1 d2 cv = Tv d 2 (12.5 )2 = = 6.637 mm2 /min = 3.49 m 2 /year t1 4 18.49

The problem with this approach is that it assumes that compression finishes when all the pore pressure has dissipated. But real soil generally exhibits creep which is ongoing compression that occurs with no change in effective stress, resulting from the viscous nature of the contacts between soil grains. This means that it is difficult to identify when the primary consolidation is complete (when pore pressure has dissipated). The settlement that occurs after the end of primary consolidation is called secondary compression (or just creep).

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Geomechanics (CIVL 2122)

(T v) 0.5
0 0 0.1 0.2 Degree of Settlement 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.7 0.8 0.9 1 0.5 1 1.5 2

Figure 16(a). Theoretical shape of U versus Tv curve.

(t: min) 0.5


0 0 2 4 6 8 10

0.5 Settlement (mm)

t1 = 4.3 min 0.5 t1 = 18.49 min

1.5

2.5

Figure 16(b). Test data plotted as actual settlement versus time. Extrapolate straight portion to 100% settlement to get t1, and hence t1.

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Compression and Consolidation

17.

Square Root Time Method: Allowing for Creep

As mentioned, real soil does not always behave exactly as assumed in the Terzaghi solution. First, there is the creep issue mentioned in the previous section. Secondly, there is often an initial immediate compression that occurs, due to various reasons (including finite compressibility of the water, due to some inevitable air bubbles). To get around these problems, the procedure is as follows (see Figure 17).

If a line through the straight-line portion does not go through the origin, then take the point where it intersects the settlement axis as the zero settlement (point F in Figure 17). Extend the straight line down to any arbitrary point, G (Figure 17(b)). Measure the horizontal intercept HG (call it x). Now increase the length of this line by 15% - i.e. line HJ = 1.15x. Join point J with point F. This line crosses the test curve at the point where the primary settlement is 90% (point C). In the example shown in Figure 17(b), this corresponds to an actual settlement of 1.108 mm. The time at point C represents t90 (where t90 is the time for 90% settlement). In this case, this gives t90 = 3.79 min0.5, or t90 = 14.36 min. From the Terzaghi solution, the time for 90% settlement is Tv = 0.848. Assuming a sample thickness 1 of 18.27 mm (d = 9.14 mm), and equating the theoretical and real values of time for 90% settlement gives:
Tv = c v t 90 d2 cv = Tv d 2 0.848 (9.14 )2 = = 4.93 mm2 /min = 2.59 m 2 /year t 90 14.36

To find 100% primary settlement, use the difference between the initial settlement and the 90% value (1.108 0.078 = 1.030 mm), divide this by 0.9 to get 100% primary settlement (1.030/0.9 = 1.144 mm), and add back the initial settlement (1.144 + 0.078 = 1.222 mm). The horizontal line DE drawn at this value of settlement represents the end of primary settlement the rest of the settlement beyond point E is due to creep.

This example is out of Whitlow (Fig. 10.22) and this is the average height of the sample in this increment in this example.

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Geomechanics (CIVL 2122)

This is the compression resulting from increased effective stress (as excess pore pressure dissipates)

= creep deformation

Figure 17(a). Square root time method applied to actual test data, allowing for initial compression and secondary compression (creep) (Whitlow).

Figure 17(b). Square root time method applied to real data (from Whitlow).

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Compression and Consolidation

18.

Measuring Consolidation Parameters: Rowe Cell

Consolidation parameters are measured by carrying out laboratory consolidation tests. The Rowe Cell apparatus shown in Figure 18 is commonly used. An increment of pressure is applied to the sample via a bellows (a Bellofram seal). Drainage occurs through the top of the sample. It can also be permitted from the base, but usually we shut the base drain, so that the pore pressure can be measured at the base. In terms of the Terzaghi solution discussed earlier, the sample has one-way drainage, so that d in the formulae is the full sample thickness. As noted in the diagram, we usually apply an elevated back pressure generally 200 kPa or more, so that the final equilibrium pore pressure is equal to this back pressure (just as, for a real soil layer, the final equilibrium pore pressure is the hydrostatic value equivalent to 20 m below the water table for a back pressure of 200 kPa). The advantage of this is that the pore pressure response is much improved, as the high back pressure tends to get most of the air in the system to go into solution. The settlement rate and the reduction of pore pressure at the base are monitored continuously. By matching these with the Terzaghi solution, the value of the coefficient of consolidation (cv) can be obtained. Effectively, this means matching the settlement with the thick black line in the lower plot in Figure 12, and the pore pressure dissipation rate with the curve for Z=1 in the same plot. For the former, the square root time method can be used, just as for a conventional oedometer test, as illustrated in Figure 17. For the latter, either try to match the whole pore pressure dissipation curve with the Uv-Tv curve for Z=1, or just match one point. For example:

Assume the maximum excess pore pressure at the base resulting from application of a load increment is 80 kPa, and that it takes 30 minutes for this to reduce to 40 kPa (50%). For Uv = 50% for Z = 1, Tv = 0.38 (Figure 12). Assume the sample thickness is 20 mm; with one-way drainage, this gives d = 20 mm. Then
Tv = cvt d2 , which gives c v = Tvd 2 0.38 20 2 = = 5.067 mm2 /min = 2.66 m2 /year t 30

Note that determining the coefficient of consolidation from the base pore pressure dissipation gets around the problem of allowing for secondary compression (creep). Thus, for each increment of load, a value of cv can be derived from the settlement data, and one from the pore pressure dissipation data for each increment. At the end of each increment, a direct permeability test is carried out, by opening the base drainage valve, and applying a pressure differential across the sample. When the flow stabilises, the flow rate is measured.

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Geomechanics (CIVL 2122)

A value of permeability can also be deduced from the cv value, since, as previously discussed:

cv =

kE o , which gives k = c v w w E o

Displacement transducer

Measurement of volume of water expelled (against back pressure)

Rigid drainage tube (settles with sample) Apply pressure to top of sample

Air pressure chamber Bellofram seal

Grooved rigid plate Porous disks Sample (150 mm diameter) Teflon ring Valve

Base drain for two-way tests, or for direct permeability measurement Pore pressure transducer

Figure 18. Schematic diagram of Rowe cell (a device in which consolidation tests are conducted)

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19.

Typical Results of Rowe Cell Test

Results from a Rowe Cell test on a tailings material from a mine in Western Australia are shown in Figure 19. In this case, the sample tested was in a slurry state, so that there is no evidence of overconsolidation. Since the application was for determining the consolidation properties of a tailings deposit, there was no need to carry out an unloading-reloading loop. However, the final unloading stage is still incorporated, as this improves the accuracy in determining the final void ratio. Figure 19 shows that the sample has been subjected to vertical effective stresses of 10, 25, 50, 100, 200 and 400 kPa, with the sample being allowed to completely consolidate after application of each new stress. After consolidation under 400 kPa vertical stress, the vertical stress is then reduced in increments (400, 200, 100, 50, 25 and 10 kPa). By measuring the final water content, the void ratio at the end of each loading increment can be determined. The top plot shows the void ratio plotted against effective vertical stress (the end point of each loading increment). For each loading increment, values of cv have been determined using both the settlement-time information, and the base pore pressure time information. Note that this test would have been carried out using an elevated back pressure of 200 kPa, as explained in the previous section. That means that the actual total stresses applied were 200 kPa greater than the effective stress values shown in Figure 19. Note also that the value of the permeability, k (whether directly measured or deduced from cv) varies as the consolidation proceeds. This is logical, since the voids ratio reduces, and this must reduce the permeability. This is especially true in the early stages of the test, when the greatest changes in voids ratio occurs.

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Geomechanics (CIVL 2122)

1.6

1.4 Void ratio (e)

1.2

0.8 10 100 Effective vertical stress 'v (kPa) 1000

4 3.5 3

c v (m /yr)

2.5 2 1.5 1 0 50 100 150 200 250 300 350

Effective vertical stress 'v (kPa)


3.0E-09 2.5E-09 2.0E-09 1.5E-09 1.0E-09 5.0E-10 0.0E+00 0 50 100 150 200 250 300 350 400 450 Measured Back calculated

Permeability k (m/sec)

Effective vertical stress 'v (kPa)

Figure 19. Results of a Row Cell test on a gold tailings sample

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Compression and Consolidation

20.

Capillary Effects and Suction

Water has a property called surface tension, which allows insects to walk on it, needles to float on it etc. Surface tension can be thought of as if the surface was a rubber membrane, with a tensile strength T of 7.4 x 105 kN per metre length (at 20C). It is this property that allows water to climb up a capillary tube. The curved surface (meniscus) means that the force T acts upwards. If we think of the meniscus as if it were half of a balloon, then the pressure inside the balloon (atmospheric pressure ua) must be greater than the pressure outside the balloon (the water pressure uw). Therefore the water pressure is negative (suction: less than atmospheric). When the water reaches equilibrium height in the tube, the negative pressure is given by the height of the water above the height in the large container. The capillary head hc, divided by the unit weight of water (9.91 kN/m3) gives the negative pressure (see Figure 20). Capillary height depends on the radius of the capillary tube. For water and clean glass, the value of hc is:

4T cos 4T if is zero wd wd 4T , where d is the diameter of the capillary tube. This gives the water pressure (suction) as: u w d For d of 1 mm (0.001 m), this gives only 29 mm, or a suction of 0.29 kPa, but for a capillary with diameter of 1 micron (1 x 10-6 m), hc would be 29 m, and the suction would be 290 kPa. hc =
20.1 Air entry pressure

If we put a very short capillary with a 1 micron diameter into water, we would have to apply an air pressure of 290 kPa to force air into the tube (to force the meniscus to fall below the top of the tube). This is the air entry pressure. In a pressure plate apparatus (illustrated in the bottom three diagrams), water passes freely through a very fine porous ceramic plate. When the water surface falls to the top of the plate, we have to apply a high air pressure to force air into the plate, depending on the size of the pores in the plate. At high enough pressure (the air entry pressure), bubbles of air appear in the water under the plate (this is the basis of a test used to determine the effective pore sizes in very fine porous disks). Another way of looking at the same process is that we have to apply a high suction to the water to suck air into the plate (for fine plates, the suction would be great enough to cause cavitation in the water). For a saturated soil, left to dry in the atmosphere, the soil remains saturated until the internal suction in the water exceeds the air entry suction. At this stage, air is sucked into the sample to replace the evaporating water.

(See: Basic Soil Mechanics, R. Whitlow, Chapter 4).

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Geomechanics (CIVL 2122)

Glass capillary tube

Water pressure (negative above water table)

T = 7.4 x 10-5 kN/m


T

u u

T u

hC height of capillary rise in tube

Water surface is like a membrane under tension. If water surface curved, pressure on both sides must be different Pressure required to force air into short capillary tube

Water drop on glass plate maintains its shape because of surface tension

Water drains freely through fine porous stone until surface reaches stone Fine porous disk (porous stone) - generally ceramic

High air pressure required to force air through porous stone

High suction required to suck air into porous stone

Figure 20. Surface tension, capillary rise, and air entry pressure

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Compression and Consolidation

21.

Suction in a Drying Soil

The mechanism for compression (consolidation) of clay due to evaporation relies on surface tension and high air entry values for fine-grained materials. Soil shrinkage due to drying is therefore just a consolidation process. As water is removed by evaporation, a meniscus develops at the entry points to the pores in the soil (see Figure 21). As the volume of water reduces, the meniscus pulls the soil in with it, rather than letting go, provided the voids are small enough. The surface tension effect therefore acts as if the soil was enclosed in a membrane, with the external air pressure being greater than the internal water pressure, causing compression of the soil. The atmosphere exerts a very high suction. Indicative values for suction head are given below

Air conditions

Relative humidity (%) 0

Potential suction head (m) 150,000 12,750 10,500 4,500 1,500 150 0.15

Equivalent suction (MPa) 150 127 105 45 15 1.5 1.5 kPa

Hot drying oven Hot dry day (40C) Average laboratory Cool damp room Very wet

15 30 70 90 99 99.999

(Source: Basic Soil Mechanics, R. Whitlow, Longman, page 77)

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Compression and Consolidation

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Geomechanics (CIVL 2122)

Can compress spring by sucking out water

Effective stress principle still applies: i.e. no total (external) stress, so:

0 = + u, or = (-) u
Water sucked out by dry air

Meniscus acts like a membrane around the sample, pulling it in as the water is sucked out

At 70% relative humidity, air exerts a suction head of 4.5 km! (or 45 MPa)

Suction due to drying causes soil to compress (consolidate) just as if external stress applied Shrinkage continues until the air entry suction is reached, then shrinkage ceases (the shrinkage limit), but drying continues Cracking in clay is evidence of shrinkage due to evaporation
Figure 21. Shrinkage of soil due to drying is actually the same as consolidation (difference is that water is sucked out rather than being squeezed out).

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Compression and Consolidation

22.

Measuring Air Entry (Suction) Value for Soil

As soil dries, it continues to shrink until the air entry value is reached. Therefore, the air entry value is the suction that occurs at the shrinkage limit. A very crude way of estimating the shrinkage limit is illustrated in Figure 22. Wet soil is placed in the shallow trough mould, making sure that no air is trapped. The soil is allowed to dry. As it dries, the sample starts to shrink. At intervals, the sample length is measured, and the whole lot weighed. This is continued until no further weight loss occurs. Then it is oven dried to find the dry weight. From this, the water content at each weighing time can be determined. Results are plotted as in the lower diagram (these are actual results). From the plot, the water content at the shrinkage limit can be estimated.
Estimating air entry suction

From the water content at the shrinkage limit, the voids ratio can be estimated, assuming that the soil is still saturated up to the shrinkage limit. We can then go back to Figure 5, to see what external effective stress is required to get this voids ratio. In this case, since the water content at the shrinkage limit is about 30%, the voids ratio would be 0.81 (for Gs = 2.7). On Figure 5, this voids ratio requires an effective stress of over 400 kPa. This implies an air entry suction of about this value. For materials with a clay content of 30% or greater, the air entry suction is usually greater than 1 MPa, at water contents of 2030 % (solids contents of 8377%).
Strength

The shear strength (su) of a clayey soil depends on the effective stress. A very crude estimate is:
s u = 0.2v So, if the air entry suction is 1 MPa, the effective stress at air entry is also 1 MPa. This gives a shear strength at this stage of 200 kPa.

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Geomechanics (CIVL 2122)

Initial length (150 mm typical)

Measure length as soil dries

To measure shrinkage limit (air entry suction): Place sample in container at about the liquid limit Measure length of sample (to get reduction in length L) Weigh sample, at intervals as soil dries. Plot shrinkage against water content
Normalised Shrinkage (skrinkage / final value) 0 Two samples of tailings from a gold mine (high kaolin content) 0.2

0.4 Plastic limit Shrinkage limit 0.8 Liquid limit

0.6

1 Air entry ? 20 25 30 35 Water Content (%) 40 45 50

1.2

Figure 22. Estimating air entry suction value from shrinkage limit test.

School of Civil & Resource Engineering, The University of Western Australia