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Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers Geotechnical Engineering 161 October 2008 Issue GE5 Pages 259–267 doi: 10.1680/geng.2008.161.5.259

Paper 800031

Received 25/06/2008

Accepted 20/07/2008

Keywords: embankments/

foundations/subsidence

Paper 800031 Received 25/06/2008 Accepted 20/07/2008 Keywords: embankments/ foundations/subsidence
Keywords: embankments/ foundations/subsidence Briony Rankine Geotechnical Engineer, Golder Associates,

Briony Rankine Geotechnical Engineer, Golder Associates, Brisbane, Australia (formerly James Cook University)

Brisbane, Australia (formerly James Cook University) Buddluma Indraratna Professor, School of Civil En-

Buddluma Indraratna Professor, School of Civil En- gineering, University of Wol- longong, Wollongong City, Australia

University of Wol- longong, Wollongong City, Australia Nagaratnam Sivakugan Associate Professor, School of

Nagaratnam Sivakugan Associate Professor, School of Engineering, James Cook University, Townsville, Aus- tralia

Engineering, James Cook University, Townsville, Aus- tralia Vasantha Wijeyakulasuriya Principal Engineer, Queens- land

Vasantha Wijeyakulasuriya Principal Engineer, Queens- land Department of Main R- oads, Brisbane, Australia

land Department of Main R- oads, Brisbane, Australia Cholachat Rujikiatkamjorn Research Fellow, School of Civil

Cholachat Rujikiatkamjorn Research Fellow, School of Civil Engineering, University of Wollongong, Wollongong City, Australia

Foundation behaviour below an embankment on soft soils

B. R. Rankine BEng (Hons), PhD, B. Indraratna PhD, DIC, FIEAust, FASCE, FGS, FIES, MIMMM, MAUSIMM , N. Sivakugan PhD, MASCE, FIEAust, CPEng, RPEQ , V. Wijeyakulasuriya MEng, MIEAust and C. Rujikiatkamjorn BEng (Hons), PhD

The Sunshine Motorway is one of the major traffic corridors that service the South East region of Queensland, Australia. Initial investigations for the construction of pavements in area 2, stage 2 of the motorway began in late 1990. Large areas of soft, highly compressible organic clays were found to exist over the length of the upgrade. Also, because the topography of the proposed alignment was mostly low lying, earthworks were required over a large portion of the route. Prior to any earthworks for the stage being undertaken, a trial embankment was constructed in the area to provide an understanding of the foundation behaviour and to also ensure the overall success of the project. The finite difference code FLAC was employed to investigate the performance of the full-scale trial embankment, and the underlying soft clay. Predictions of the excess pore pressure and both vertical and lateral displacements are made and compared with field observations.

NOTATION

B equivalent unit cell width (plane strain case)

b s equivalent smear radius (plane strain case) b w equivalent radius of drain (plane strain case) c 9 cohesion

E

elastic modulus

G

elastic shear modulus

K max maximum elastic bulk modulus k hp plane strain horizontal permeability k h axi-symmetric horizontal permeability

k hp ’ plane strain horizontal permeability in smear zone k h ’ axi-symmetric horizontal permeability in smear zone k v average vertical permeability

M

frictional constant (Cam clay parameter)

n

spacing ratio, R /r w

R

radius of influence zone for each drain (axisymmetric case)

r s radius of smear zone (axisymmetric case) r w radius of drain (axisymmetric case)

s

v 0 initial specific volume v cs critical specific volume at 1 Pa Æ, geometric parameters defined in equations (2) and (3)

k slope of isotropic swelling line (Cam clay parameter)

smear ratio, r s / r w

º

r

9

slope of isotropic consolidation line (Cam Clay parameter) Poisson’s ratio

dry density

friction angle

1. INTRODUCTION Located approximately 100 km north of Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast is one of Queensland’s main tourist attractions, and one of Australia’s fastest-growing regions, recording a high rate of annual population growth of 3 . 6%, that is, approximately 500 000 by the end of 2021. As one of the major carriageways for the region, the Sunshine Coast Motorway provides an integral part of the South East Queensland road network, and not surprisingly is one of the key development projects for the Queensland Department of Main Roads (Main Roads). A proposed route alignment through Area 2 of the second stage of the motorway (Fig. 1) was fixed in October 1990, and the total length of this section is approximately 4 . 7 km. The topography to be traversed within this stage of the motorway was predominantly low lying (less than 1 m above sea level), requiring significant earthworks along the majority of the route. Embankment construction was mainly in the order of

N (Not to scale) Study area Brisbane Fig. 1. Map showing approximate location of area
N
(Not to scale)
Study area
Brisbane
Fig. 1. Map showing approximate location of area 2, stage 2, of
the Sunshine Motorway

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259

2–3 m in height, but increased up to 7 m or more on the approach to various structures along the route.

Initial site investigations were used primarily for the purpose of profiling the soil conditions along the proposed route. These tests showed that the original alignment would inevitably cross over large sections of highly compressible soft marine clays (undrained shear strength less than 10 kPa). Road embankments constructed on soft soils are often subjected to large deformations, and can be rendered unserviceable owing to excessive settlements. Following careful consideration, the proposed development path was moved further east, and a new alignment was fixed in December 1990. Additional geotechnical investigations undertaken along this new alignment showed that although soft clays were still traversed along the changed route, the area being crossed had been significantly reduced.

Given the geotechnical problems expected in an area with a large proportion of soft clay to be traversed, a trial embankment was built to ensure the overall success of the project. This fully instrumented embankment (maximum height 2 . 85 m) allowed the soft clay foundation behaviour to be observed, and the parameters to be established for preliminary design to be verified. More significantly, this embankment provided a means of evaluating the effectiveness of prefabricated vertical drains (PVD). Construction was undertaken in multiple lifts over a period of approximately 2 months. PVDs were installed in a triangular pattern underneath two separate sections of the embankment.

This paper describes the predicted and measured behaviour of the embankment and the underlying soft clay foundation. Field behaviour was simulated using a fully coupled Biot consolidation model, and the modified Cam clay theory was adopted for all clay layers, except for the weathered surface crust and the sand layer, which were modelled according to the Mohr–Coulomb theory. The effectiveness of PVDs was evaluated on the basis of excess pore pressure dissipation and both the vertical and lateral displacements below the embankment.

2. GEOTECHNICAL INVESTIGATIONS Because of the large amounts of earthworks required, an extensive in situ and laboratory testing schedule was undertaken by Queensland Department of Main Roads 13 to profile the soils. The total scope of the investigation included

(a ) 48 drill boreholes* (b ) 10 electric static friction cone penetrometer tests (c ) 64 standard bridge probes† (d ) 6 inspection trenches.

Standard penetration testing (SPT), vane shear tests and undisturbed soils sampling were also undertaken at boreholes drilled close to the pier or abutment locations. Boreholes were extended until the bedrock had been cored to a depth of 3 m.

* In some cases, holes were redrilled to obtain additional samples. The additional samples were identified using prefixes (e.g. DH5A). † Several probes were redone. These probes were identified using suffixes (e.g.

P15B).

Additionally, in situ shear vanes were conducted along the entire length of the proposed route. The recovered samples had a diameter of either 50 mm or 75 mm, and were individually tested to obtain their index properties, organic content, natural moisture content, and particle size distribution curves. Additionally, unconsolidated undrained, isotropically consolidated undrained and consolidated-drained triaxial tests were performed on selected soft clay samples.

3. SUBSOIL CONDITIONS Because of the limited amount of testing undertaken along the final alignment, soil properties were estimated using results from laboratory and field testing carried out along both the new and the old alignments. A typical soil profile within area 2, Stage 2 of the Sunshine Motorway is shown in Fig. 2. As shown, testing revealed the existence of a 0 . 5 m thick weathered crust above 10 m of silty clay (with the exception of Section A, in which the crust extended further to a depth of 1 . 5 m). Laboratory testing conducted on this clay layer indicated that it could be divided into three sublayers. The uppermost of these layers exhibited an average water content of 82% and an approximate liquid limit of 60%. The middle layer of clay was more plastic than the upper layer, and exhibited average water content and liquid limit values of 90% and 65% respectively. The bottom layer of clay had the same plasticity as the upper layer of clay, with averaged water content and liquid limit of approximately 75% and 66% respectively. Wijekulasuriya et al. 4 noted that the liquidity index did not exceed 2 for all soil layers below the weathered crust, indicating a non-sensitive nature. This suggests the soils were very soft clay, with relatively high organic content (5–10%). Further underlying this soft clay was a clayey sand layer that extended to a depth of approximately 16 m below the ground level.

Although many types of soft clay are normally consolidated, overconsolidation can sometimes occur close to the soil surface because of weathering, erosion or desiccation (Fig. 2). The overconsolidation ratio (OCR) was determined from results obtained from the standard oedometer testing. It was also observed that the unit weight of the clay was fairly consistent with depth, ranging between 13 . 9 kN/m 3 and 15 . 7 kN/m 3 , with the exception of the topmost overconsolidated crust, which measured 17 . 4 kN/m 3 . Interestingly, the average specific gravity for all five layers varied between 2 . 48 and 2 . 63. These values are lower than the range normally expected for clayey soils (usually around 2 . 65), and can be attributed to the presence of organics within the soil. Average values of organic content reported by Litwinowicz et al . 5 range between 4 . 8% and 10 . 7% for layers within 10 m below the ground level.

Undisturbed samples used in evaluating the subsoil conditions were taken in both the vertical and horizontal directions. Consolidation (oedometer) tests were also undertaken on both vertically and horizontally oriented specimens. To obtain an indication of the permeability anisotropy, the average horizontal permeability was divided by the average vertical permeability, giving a k h / k v ratio of 2 . 85. Such anisotropy in permeability is comparable to observations made by other researchers for marine clays of similar properties (e.g. Bo et al. 6 ). For selected specimens, Table 1 details the permeability coefficients in the horizontal and vertical directions.

260 Geotechnical Engineering 161 Issue GE5

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Description OCR Unit weight, γ: kN/m 3 Water Index properties content: % 0 5 10
Description
OCR
Unit weight,
γ: kN/m 3
Water
Index properties
content: %
0
5
10
15
0
50
0·0 m
Weathered
17·4
LL
60, PI
27,
0·5 m
crust
LI
0·33
Silty
13·9
LL
60, PI
30,
clay
LI
1·73
2·5 m
Silty
14·0
LL
65, PI
42,
clay
LI
1·60
5·0 m
15·1
Silty
LL
36, PI
42,
clay
LI
1·34
15·7
10·5 m
Sand
17·5
16·0 m
Fig. 2. Typical soil profile beneath Area 2, Stage 2, of the Sunshine Motorway

parameters and calculation methods. 4 The trial embankment considered in this paper, more specifically,

was constructed to

(a ) assess the feasibility and stability of staged construction of the

embankment, (b ) assess the effectiveness of the mandrel driven PVDs (c ) verify the compressibility and consolidation

characteristics assumed for design calculations.

The overall design of the trial embankment, shown in Fig. 3, comprised three sections, referred to in this paper as sections A, B and C. The two primary sections (sections A and B) were 35 m long. section A represented the design case (vertical drains installed at 1 m spacing) and section B was the control (i.e. undisturbed virgin ground with only preloading

Soil properties established through laboratory and in situ testing were unique to this project, and differed substantially from any other soils encountered previously by Main Roads. This warranted the construction of a trial embankment to observe the real foundation behaviour, and also to verify the design parameters previously established. In order to ensure effective subsurface drainage of the motorway, PVDs were chosen as the method of ground improvement below the surcharge loading and two different drain spacings (1 m and 2 m) were implemented.

4. FULL-SCALE TRIAL EMBANKMENT An observational approach, based on performance monitoring, is generally undertaken by Main Roads to address issues associated with uncertainties in ground conditions, design

applied). Section C, measuring 20 m, was used as an intermediate case with PVDs installed at 2 m spacing. Installation of vertical drains was in a triangular grid arrangement, and to a depth of 10 m (for both sections), close to the bottom of the silty clay layer, implying upward drainage. In conjunction with section A, section C was used to assess the influence of drain spacing and the suitability of PVDs to accelerate consolidation and facilitate embankment construction on Sunshine Coast soft clay.

The nominal crest width and height of all sections of the embankment were 17 m and 2 . 85 m respectively. Berms were constructed to widths of 5 m on the instrumented side of the embankment and to 8 m on the opposite side. The height of all berms was approximately 1 m. Construction of the embankment was carried out using a multi-staged approach (Fig. 4).

Section ID

Parameter

Soil layer

 

Layer

1

2

3

4

5

Description

Weathered

Silty clay

Silty clay

Silty clay

Clayey sand

crust

Depth: m

0–0 . 5

0 . 5–2 . 5

2 . 5–5 . 0

5 . 0–10 . 5

10 . 5–16 . 0

All sections

Vertical permeability, k v : m/s Horizontal permeability, k h : m/s

3 . 8 3 10 8 6 . 3 3 10 8

4 . 1 3 10 8 6 . 8 3 10 8

3 . 3 3 10 8 5 . 4 3 10 8

9 . 4 3 10 9 1 . 5 3 10 8

7 . 8 3 10 8 1 . 3 3 10 7

Table 1. Permeability coefficients for untreated foundation soils

 

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261

C L A B C Design case drains at 1 m spacing Control case No
C L
A
B
C
Design case
drains at 1 m
spacing
Control case
No drains
Intermediate case
drains at 2 m
spacing
(a)
C L
5 m
2·6 m
8·5 m
8·5 m
2·5 m
8 m
1·85 m
IC5
IA1
1·0 m
IB3
SCA1, SCB3, SCC5
5·0 m
PVA4
PVA 10
5·0 m
PVC39
PVB22
PVB32
PPC45
5·0 m
(b)
Fig. 3. Sketch depicting design of trial embankment and
instrumentation layout: (a) plan view; (b) elevation view
4·0 Section A 3·5 Section B 3·0 Section C 2·5 2·0 1·5 1·0 0·5 0
4·0
Section A
3·5
Section B
3·0
Section C
2·5
2·0
1·5
1·0
0·5
0
0
5
10
15
20
25
30
35
40
43
46
50
55
Time: days
Fig. 4. Actual construction sequence for trial embankment
sections
Fill height: m

The layout of instrumentation below the embankment was designed to optimise the range of equipment installed without sacrificing the quality and extent of information being obtained, whereby the bulk of instruments were placed on one half of the embankment cross-section. The instrumentation included inclinometers, settlement gauges, horizontal profile gauges, piezometers (pneumatic, standpipe and vibrating wire) and earth pressure cells. The locations of each of the piezometers (PP ¼ pneumatic, PV ¼ vibrating wire), settlement gauges (SC) and inclinometers (I) are shown in Fig. 3, and the recorded filed data were used to verify the numerical model predictions, as explained below.

5. NUMERICAL MODELLING A numerical analysis of the trial embankment from this case study was undertaken using the two-dimensional finite difference package FLAC, 7 which is an explicit finite difference

program. A fully coupled Biot consolidation model was adopted to mimic the soft clay foundation behaviour below the embankment. This type of model has been found by other researchers, including Indraratna et al. , 8 to provide a realistic representation of the actual field behaviour of soft clays.

The modified Cam-clay constitutive model, derived by Roscoe and Burland, 9 was used to describe each of the clay sublayers

(excluding the crust). Parameters required for this model include the gradients of volume against natural log mean effective stress relations for consolidation and swelling (º and k respectively), the frictional constant (M), the specific volume at unit mean effective stress (1 Pa) on the CSL (v cs ), the density (r )˜, the elastic shear modulus ( G) and the maximum elastic bulk modulus (K max ). The crust and remaining sand layer were modelled assuming Mohr–Coulomb constitutive behaviour. Values for the parameters used in both types of foundation model are shown in Table 2.

The geometry and response of PVDs are three-dimensional (axisymmetric). However, for the purpose of computational efficiency, the analyses of most multi-drain systems can be

conducted

Conversion to equivalent plane strain is achieved by transforming the vertical drain system into a set of equivalent drain walls, which can be achieved through geometric and/or permeability matching. 8,1416

using an equivalent plane-strain model. 1014

For the treated soil, horizontal permeabilities were calculated using the method outlined by Indraratna and Redana. 14 Using this method, the plane-strain ratio of smear zone horizontal permeability k9 hp to the undisturbed horizontal permeability k hp is given by

 

k9

hp

 

1

k

hp

¼

k hp = k h [ln ð n= s Þ þ ð k h = k9 h Þln ð sÞ 0 : 75] Æg

where n is the spacing ratio (R / r w ), s is the smear ratio ( r s /r w ),

r s is the radius of the smear zone, r w is the radius of the drain, and R is the radius of the influence zone for each drain (¼ 1 . 05 3 drain spacing for triangular grid arrangement).

The geometric parameters Æ and are defined as

   

Æ ¼ 2

2 b s

1

b

 

b

2

 

2

s

þ

s

   
   

3

B

B

 

3 B

2

3

¼

1

ð b s b w Þ 2 þ

b

s

3 b

2

b

2

B

2

3 B 3

w

s

Parameters from equations (1)–(3) are defined diagrammatically in Fig. 5.

Well resistance is not significant when the drains have very high discharge capacity. Thanks to the modern-day manufacture of PVDs, their discharge capacity can be assumed to be large enough to ignore any well resistance compared with the smear effect.

In this study, the extent of the smear was taken as five times

262 Geotechnical Engineering 161 Issue GE5

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Rankine et al.

Parameter

Method of testing

Soil layer

 

Layer

1

2

3

4

5

Description Weathered crust

Silty clay

Silty clay

Silty clay

Clayey sand

Depth: m

0–0 . 5

0 . 5–2 . 5

2 . 5–5 . 0

5 . 0–10 . 5

10 . 5–16 . 0

Model

MC 1

MCC 2

MCC

MCC

MC

º

Oedometer test

0 . 27 0 . 013 1 . 2

0 . 48 0 . 016 1 . 2

0 . 27 0 . 013 1 . 06

 

k

Oedometer test

Slope, M Standard penetration test

 

Critical specific volume at 1 Pa, v cs Initial specific volume, v 0 Poisson’s ratio, Dry density, r : kg/m 3 Elastic modulus, E:

Triaxial tests

5 . 5

7 . 4

5 . 6

Oedometer test

3 . 2

3 . 1

2 . 9

 

0 . 3

0 . 25

0 . 25

0 . 25

0 . 3

1249

850

725

1000

1280

Oedometer test

23 . 4

7 . 8

MPa Shear modulus, G:

9

3

MPa Cohesion, c9 : kPa Vane shear test

 

13 . 5 35 . 0

 

13 . 5 35 . 0

Friction angle, 9 :

Standard penetration

degrees

test

Table 2. Parameters used in FLAC analysis

 
Drain Smear zone r l b w l w r b s s R B
Drain
Smear zone
r
l
b
w
l
w
r
b
s
s
R
B
D
2B
(a)
(b)
Fig. 5. Conversion of an axisymmetric unit cell into plane
strain: 16 (a) axisymmetric case; (b) plane-strain case

the equivalent radius of the drain. 17 Permeability within the undisturbed region can be derived by ignoring all smear and well resistance terms, and is given by

 

k

hp

 

0 : 67

4

k

h

¼

ln ð nÞ 0 : 75

Base permeability values were established using this method,

and are detailed further in Table 3 for both the undisturbed and smeared sections of the affected foundation layers.

The basic finite difference grid used to compute lateral and vertical displacements, as well as excess pore water pressure, for this study is shown in Fig. 6. The soil was modelled to a

depth of 16 m. This boundary was assumed as rigid, and the

soil below as dense enough to neglect any deformations associated with it. This bottom boundary was further assumed

to be non-draining, while the uppermost was assumed to be freely draining.

The lateral boundaries of the finite difference mesh were fixed at 150 m from the centreline. By exceeding the vertical boundary dimension by at least five times, it was possible to minimise boundary effects. The mesh density was increased below the embankment to improve the computational accuracy. In order to include the smear zones, the mesh was

adjusted slightly for each of the sections up to 10 m deep, which is the vertical drain installation depth. Prior to full multi-drain simulation of each section, a single cell model was run and calibrated for establishing the relevant soil layer properties. The total width of the embankment modelled was 35 m.

In the numerical model, the groundwater table was assumed at the ground surface, although the results from standpipe piezometers installed in the trial embankment indicated a slight variability in the height of the water table. The embankment

was modelled using a Mohr–Coulomb model. The soil

parameters of the embankment fill are shown in Table 4. The rate of construction simulated in the model followed the actual construction sequence (Fig. 4). Owing to the lack of symmetry along the centreline of the embankment sections, it was

Geotechnical Engineering 161 Issue GE5

Foundation behaviour below an embankment on soft soils

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263

Section

Parameter

Soil layer

ID

Layer

1

2

3

4

Description

Weathered crust

Silty clay

Silty clay

Silty clay

Depth: m

0–0 . 5

0 . 5–2 . 5

2 . 5–5 . 0

5 . 0–10 . 5

A

Plane-strain horizontal permeability (no smear), k hp(SA) :

5 . 3 3 10 8

7 . 0 3 10 8

5 . 6 3 10 8

1 . 6 3 10 9

m/s Plane-strain horizontal

1 . 6 3 10 9

2 . 1 3 10 8

1 . 7 3 10 9

4 . 8 3 10 9

permeability (with smear), k 9

hp(SA) :

 

m/s

C

Plane-strain horizontal permeability (no smear): k hp(SC) :

4 . 2 3 10 8

5 . 5 3 10 8

4 . 3 3 10 8

1 . 2 3 10 8

m/s

Plane-strain horizontal permeability (with smear), k 9 m/s

hp(SC) :

1 . 1 3 10 8

1 . 5 3 10 8

1 . 2 3 10 8

3 . 4 3 10 8

Table 3. Plane-strain permeability values for subsoil layers treated by PVDs

 
Ground surface Smear 10 m zone 6 m Drain spacing/2 Fig. 6. Finite difference mesh
Ground surface
Smear
10 m
zone
6 m
Drain spacing/2
Fig. 6. Finite difference mesh for full embankment analysis
(main) and unit cell analysis (subset)

Parameter

Value

Dry density, r : kg/m 3 Shear modulus, G: MPa Cohesion, c9 : kPa Friction angle, : degrees Poisson’s ratio,

2039

10

10

32

0 . 25

Table 4. Mohr–Coulomb parameters of embankment fill

necessary to model the whole width of the embankment for each simulation.

To account for the multiple layering within each of these models, and to ensure equilibrium, gravity was switched on following the specification of all initial in situ stress with K 0 ¼ 0 . 5 and pore water pressures, and all models were iterated to the unbalanced force of 0 . 1%. Displacements resulting from

this ‘solve command’ were initialised back to zero prior to the first embankment loading.

6. ANALYSIS OF RESULTS Actual field measurements of the foundation response were monitored by Queensland Department of Main Roads. 13 These field measurements of surface settlements, pore water pressures, and lateral displacement are compared with the values obtained from the modelling exercise in the following sections.

6.1. Excess pore pressures Pore pressure generation was analysed at two separate locations within each section. Piezometers PPA4, PVA10, PVB28, PVB32, PVC39 and PPC45 were selected for comparison. The locations of these piezometers were shown in Fig. 3. Plots of pore pressure variation against time for each of the piezometers are given in Fig. 7.

Excess pore pressures were estimated extremely well for the initial stages of sections B and C, but a slight overestimation of pressures was observed for section A. The maximum deviation between the observed and predicted pore pressures within these stages occurred at PVA4, and measured approximately 10 kPa. This overestimation is hypothesised to be an effect of excessive groundwater pumping from machinery installing adjacent instrumentation or vertical drains. The overall maximum excess pore pressures achieved following these initial loading stages were also predicted well, with a discrepancy of only 5 kPa observable at the point of maximum pore pressure.

Significant disparity can be seen with regard to the rate of dissipation present for the treated sections of the embankment. This difference is believed to be due primarily to a phenomenon known as the Mandel–Cryer effect. This effect is characterised by stress redistribution associated with large lateral strains, where the increase in localised stresses in some regions of the soils due to stress redistribution can in fact generate additional pore pressures, hence mimicking the effect

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100·00 90·00 PVA4 (actual) PVA4 (predicted) 80·00 PVA10 (actual) 70·00 PVA10 (predicted) 60·00 50·00
100·00
90·00
PVA4 (actual)
PVA4 (predicted)
80·00
PVA10 (actual)
70·00
PVA10 (predicted)
60·00
50·00
40·00
30·00
20·00
10·00
0
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
90
100
Time: days
(a)
100·00
90·00
PVB32 (actual)
PVB32 (predicted)
80·00
PVB28 (actual)
70·00
PVB28 (predicted)
60·00
50·00
40·00
30·00
20·00
Drilling nearby
10·00
0
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
90
100
Time: days
(b)
100·00
PVB39 (actual)
90·00
PVB39 (predicted)
80·00
PVB45 (actual)
70·00
PVB45 (predicted)
60·00
50·00
40·00
30·00
20·00
10·00
0
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
90
100
Time: days
(c)
Fig. 7. Excess pore water pressure variation: (a) Section A; (b)
Section B; (c) Section C
Excess pore pressure: kPa
Excess pore pressure: kPa
Excess pore water pressure: kPa

of retarded pore water pressure dissipation. 1820 Such a phenomenon has been observed in the development of excess pore water pressures in thick deposits of normally consolidated clays, and similarly below various surcharge loadings, including trial embankments built upon soft clays from the Muar Plains, Malaysia. 21

6.2. Surface settlements Comparisons of predicted and observed surface settlement were made for each of the three sections. The points selected for comparison were located at settlement gauges SCA1 (section A), SCB3 (section B) and SCC5 (section C). Gauges SCA1 and SCB3 were located under the centreline of the embankment, and at SCC5, 1 m left of the centreline (see Fig. 3). Fig. 8 shows the predicted and observed settlements for each embankment section.

Time: days 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 110 0
Time: days
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
90
100
110
0
100
200
300
400
500
600
700
800
Section A (actual)
Section A (predicted)
Section B (actual)
Section B (predicted)
Section C (actual)
Section C (predicted)
900
Fig. 8. Settlement plot for gauges SCA1, SCB3 and SCC5
during the embankment construction phase
Settlement: mm

As clearly demonstrated, the magnitudes of vertical settlement under the embankment are generally well computed. Slight underestimations and overestimations were predicted for sections A and C respectively. As expected, the treated sections displayed a faster consolidation rate than the untreated section B. Furthermore, the settlement consolidation rate for section A, in which the drains were spaced at 1 m, was quicker than for section C, which was treated with drains at 2 m spacing. However. the difference between values (both predicted and observed) for sections A and C was minimal, and thus any benefit derived from installing the vertical drains at spacing closer than 2 m is negligible, as the smear effect produced by drain installation largely negates it. The divergence observed between the predicted settlement–time relationships for the treated sections is greater than that shown by the field readings. This may be due to physical problems with the vertical drains installed (i.e. kinking and/or clogging of the drain), but is more likely to be due to the differences with the smear effects assumed from drain installation.

6.3. Lateral displacements The predicted and measured lateral soil deformations were measured for inclinometers IA1, IB3 and IC5 (locations shown in Fig. 3). Displacements have been compared at 69 days (end of construction) for all three sections. Inclinometer displacement profiles for measured and predicted results in each of the sections are shown in Fig. 9.

It is observed that the maximum lateral movement below the embankment was predicted well, with only slight overestimation for sections A and C, and only slight underestimation for section B. The predicted displacement profiles for sections A and B also compared favourably when evaluated with respect to that measured in the field. These inclinometers were installed 10 m left of the centreline. A less favourable comparison was found for section C: although the maximum lateral displacement was predicted reasonably, the displacement profile generated by the model was quite different from that which occurred in the field. Errors in the prediction of lateral movement for section C may be partly due to the corner effects of the embankment. These are not properly modelled in two-dimensional plane strain. Such effects would be less of a concern for inclinometers IA1 and IB3, as they are located away from the toe of the embankment. However, the inclinometer in section C, IC5, was located at the toe of the

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Lateral displacement: mm

 

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Fig. 9. Lateral displacement profiles for inclinometers: (a) IA1 (Section A); (b) IB3 (Section B); (c) IC5 (Section C)

embankment, and would be subjected to subjected to such effects in the field.

Also, anisotropy of the mechanical properties of the soil may have contributed to differences between the predicted and measured lateral deformation. Inability to input such directional variation is one of the major drawbacks of the Cam clay model. 22

7. CONCLUSIONS This paper presents a classic case history of a trial embankment built on soft, organic marine clay in Area 2A of the Sunshine Coast Motorway in South East Queensland, Australia. It details both the pore pressure response and the vertical and lateral deformations produced during the construction of a fully instrumented trial embankment. The trial embankment was used to assess the feasibility and stability of staged construction of the embankment, to assess the effectiveness of installing prefabricated vertical drains, and to verify the compressibility and consolidation characteristics. The

embankment was constructed using a multi-staged approach, and three separate sections were considered. These sections represented the design case (vertical drains installed at 2 m spacing), a control case (virgin undisturbed soil) and an intermediate case (vertical drains installed at 1 m spacing). A fully coupled plane-strain analysis of each of these sections was carried out and compared with in situ measurements.

The deviations between the measured field measurements and the excess pore water pressures predicted by the numerical model for each section were considered acceptable, given the

limitations of the equivalent plane-strain analysis and the underlying assumptions. The reduced pore pressure dissipation in the field, in contrast to the FEM predictions, implies that the smear effect around the drains was probably more extensive than had been assumed in the numerical analysis. If vertical drains are installed too close to each other (e.g. 1 m spacing in this case), Walker and Indraratna 23 demonstrate that the rate of pore water dissipation can be further affected by overlapping smear zones. In general, the installation of PVDs will certainly accelerate the excess pore pressure dissipation upon application of the surcharge load. The maximum deviation between observed and predicted excess pore pressure occurred at PVC44 at 60 days. Maximum deviations in sections A and C were predicted at 60 days and 75 days respectively. With the exception of PVC44, excess pore water pressure was slightly overestimated for each of the prediction points. Discrepancies between measured and predicted pore pressures may have been due to disparities between the actual and assumed loading conditions, or disparities related to the clay permeabilities employed in the numerical analysis.

The numerical model predictions of surface settlement were in excellent agreement with the field measurements. Both numerical and field measurements showed that reducing the drain spacing from 2 m (Section C) to 1 m (section A) has no

significant difference on the settlement at any time. The vertical drains with 2 m spacing were chosen in this project. It should be noted that the presence of drains, irrespective of the spacing, has no effect on the final magnitude of the consolidation settlement; it only has an effect in hastening the rate of settlement.

The magnitude of maximum lateral displacement was predicted well by all three sections; however, although the displacement profile for sections A and B compared favourably with the movements measured in the field, the profile for section C differed significantly from the field profile. This difference may be due to the positioning of each of the inclinometers. IC5 was located at the embankment toe. This inclinometer would be subjected to corner effects from the embankment. Such effects are not properly modelled by a two-dimensional plane-strain analysis. There would not be as significant an effect on the inclinometers IA1 and IB3 due to their positioning (10 m left of the centreline).

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS The authors wish to thank the materials and geotechnical services branch of the Department of Main Roads Queensland, for their assistance in the provision of field data for this case study. The financial assistance provided by DEST as a part of ARC-Linkage project is also gratefully acknowledged.

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