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CIVL3210 Geotechnical Engineering Exercise 1 Triaxial Test

Exercise 1 Triaxial Test

1. INTRODUCTION

In the triaxial test a cylindrical sample of soil is contained within membrane and end platens and
acted on by an all-round cell pressure. The sample is then loaded axially to failure. During loading,
axial and volumetric strains and pore water pressures may be measured enabling the total and
effective stress paths and strains to failure to be followed.

In this exercise the student should become acquainted with the main components of the triaxial
testing system, without performing an actual test, and should carry out the specified tasks using the
supplied results from an actual test.

The supplied results are from a multi-stage undrained triaxial test, with pore pressure measurement,
performed on a sample of clay. From these results the total and effective stress strength parameters
may be obtained for the clay, over the stress range tested, and the measured pore pressures also
enable the pore pressure parameters to be evaluated.

2. APPARATUS AND NOTATION

Ram

Perspex
Loading
cylinder
cap
Sample drainage and
Porous pore water pressure
discs measurement

Sample

Cell pressure Sample drainage and

supply pore water pressure
measurement

The University of Queensland, 2009 1-1

CIVL3210 Geotechnical Engineering Exercise 1 Triaxial Test

Notation

A sample cross-sectional area

Ao initial sample cross-sectional area
Ap ram cross-sectional area
P ran force, measured externally by proving ring or load cell
L sample length
Lo initial sample length
+ 3 + 3
s = 1 ; s = 1 Mean normal stress
2 2

t = 1 3 = t = 1 3 deviatoric stress
2 2
u pore pressure
1 , 1 total and effective axial stress
3 , 3 total and effective cell pressure
1 axial strain = L / Lo

3. PROCESSING OF TEST DATA

The data obtained from a triaxial test (with pore pressure measurement) comprises readings of P, u
and 1 . These are processed as follows:

1 3
(i) Calculation of total deviatoric stress, t = :
2

(1 3 ).A + 3 .A P = P

P 3 .A P
( 1 3 ) = (1)
A

(ii) Calculation of sample cross-sectional area A:

For an undrained test on a saturated sample, the volume of the sample remains nearly
constant.

.L .o.L o
.L .L .L
and = o o = =
L L o L L (1 1 )

= (2)
1 1

Substituting (2) into (1)

The University of Queensland, 2009 1-2
CIVL3210 Geotechnical Engineering Exercise 1 Triaxial Test

( . )(1 )

1 3 =
3 1

Having obtained the total deviatoric stress for a given axial strain, values for 1 , s, s' and t may
readily be calculated.

4. STRESS PATH PLOTS

From tabulated values of s, s' and t, the stress paths which the sample follows during the three
stages of the triaxial test may be plotted on s, t or s', t axes to obtain the failure envelope and total or
effective stress strength parameters, respectively. A typical stress path plot on s', t axes is shown,
together with the failure envelope and means of obtaining the effective stress strength parameters.

t
sin = tan
Failure Envelope
2.5%
2.0%
1.5%
1.0%

ccos

s'

The pore pressure parameters A and B are defined by the equation:

u = B [3 + A (1 - 3)]

The parameter B may be obtained at the start of the triaxial test after consolidation under the all-
round cell pressure 3, but before the start of shearing. A small increment in cell pressure is applied
(1 = 3) and the resulting change in pore pressure (with no drainage) recorded. B is then
obtained from:

u = B 3

and will be unity for a saturated sample. (i.e. if B < 1 the sample is not saturated)

The parameter A may then be obtained for any level of axial strain as 1 is increased, with 3 held
constant, that is:

u = A.B.1

The University of Queensland, 2009 1-3

CIVL3210 Geotechnical Engineering Exercise 1 Triaxial Test

6. EXERCISE

Using the attached partially processed results from an actual triaxial test, carry out the following
tasks:

i) Prepare tables of 1 , u, 1 , s, s' and t for each of the three stages (three levels of cell pressure).

ii) Plot the stress paths on s, t and s', t' axes, marking the 1 values along the stress paths.

iii)Draw the failure envelopes and hence determine c, and c', '.

iv) Assuming B = 1, calculate A at 1.41%, 2.07% and 3.11% axial strain for stages 1,2 and 3,
respectively.

Based on the shape of the failure envelopes, was the clay normally consolidated or over-
consolidated?

Give an example of a situation where the results of multi-stage undrained triaxial test with pore
pressure measurement would be relevant.

The University of Queensland, 2009 1-4

CIVL3210 Geotechnical Engineering Exercise 1 Triaxial Test

Stage 1 Cell Pressure 3 = 150 kPa

1 (%) u (kPa) 1 3 (kPa) 1 (kPa) s (kPa) s' (kPa) t (kPa)
0.00 0 0
0.56 52 60
0.71 58 82
0.99 60 119
1.41 69 146
1.83 77 162
2.26 82 172
2.68 88 178
3.10 90 183
3.53 92 187
3.95 93 189
4.37 95 192

Stage 2 Cell Pressure 3 = 300 kPa

1 (%) u (kPa) 1 3 (kPa) 1 (kPa) s (kPa) s' (kPa) t (kPa)
0.00 0 0
0.15 102 162
0.44 112 230
0.74 126 280
1.18 139 329
1.62 150 359
2.07 160 377
2.51 167 388
2.95 170 397
3.39 172 403
3.83 173 409
4.28 173 413
4.72 174 416

Stage 3 Cell Pressure 3 = 650 kPa

1 (%) u (kPa) 1 3 (kPa) 1 (kPa) s (kPa) s' (kPa) t (kPa)
0.00 0 0
0.15 212 305
0.30 218 357
0.46 220 405
0.78 240 489
1.24 280 594
1.71 315 670
2.17 342 709
2.64 362 726
3.11 372 732
3.57 380 741
4.04 382 744
4.34 382 745

The University of Queensland, 2009 1-5

CIVL3210 Geotechnical Engineering Exercise 2 Direct Shear Test

Exercise 2 - Direct Shear Test

1. INTRODUCTION

In the direct shear test a sample of soil is contained within a box split horizontally and is loaded
vertically between rigid, rough top and bottom platens. The two halves of the split box are then
forced in opposite directions inducing a shearing surface within the soil sample. The applied shear
force is resisted by the cohesion of the soil, friction between soil particles and by the work required
to dilate the soil under the normal load to enable shearing. The test may be conducted under
saturated conditions, but pore pressures are not measured.

For clays the total stress strength parameters are obtained by multi-stage shearing at a rapid rate
(undrained) and the effective stress strength parameters are obtained by multi-stage shearing at a
slow rate (drained), both under saturated conditions. For sands (cohensionless) the effective angle
of internal friction is obtained by rapid shearing (drained, since sands are highly permeable) at an
appropriate normal stress and often under dry conditions. The shearing resistance of soils on other
materials such as steel or concrete may be obtained by placing a block of the material in the bottom
half of the shear box to be flush with the horizontal split.

In this exercise a loose sample of dry uniform beach sand is sheared under an initial normal stress of
100 or 300 kPa. The rate of shearing is given and shearing is continued to the maximum travel of
the machine (about 15% strain).

Normal load

and toothed grid

Sample
Shear force
Split box
Shear force

and toothed grid

The University of Queensland, 2009 2-1

CIVL3210 Geotechnical Engineering Exercise 2 Direct Shear Test

Notation

A sample cross-sectional area

Ao initial sample cross-sectional area
B shear box dimension
N normal load
S shear force
h change in height of sample
L shear displacement of top of box
shear stress
f frictional component of shear stress
n normal stress

3. PROCESSING OF TEST DATA

The data obtained from a direct shear test comprises readings of S (proving ring divisions x proving
ring constant), h and L

S
= (1)
A

N
n = (2)
A

= . ( L )
L
= 1 (3)

(iii) Calculation of frictional component of shear stress, f :

Equating the total work done in shearing the sample with the work done against the normal
stress and the work done in overcoming friction between sand particles.

. L = n h + f .L
h
f = n . (4)
L

4. EXERCISE

Two loose samples of dry uniform beach sand have been prepared in separate shear boxes. The
samples have an initial nominal density of 1.7 Mg/m3 and occupy a depth of about 25mm in the
60mm by 60mm shear box so that the horizontal split is roughly at the mid-height of the sample.
The University of Queensland, 2009 2-2
CIVL3210 Geotechnical Engineering Exercise 2 Direct Shear Test

Experimental Procedure

The following experimental procedure should be followed:

(i) mount the shear box in the direct shear machine with the brass locking screws still in place;

(ii) hand-wind the machine so that the shear box just makes contact with the proving ring;

(iii) locate the dial gauges for measuring horizontal and vertical movement;

(iv) zero all three dial gauges and record the zeros;

(v) apply the appropriate normal load (to give an initial normal stress of 100 or 300 kPa) and
record the vertical dial gauge reading;
(vi) remove the locking screws and give the brass lifting screws a half turn clockwise
simultaneously to separate the halves of the shear box, before retracting the lifting screws.
Record the vertical dial gauge reading;

(vii) commence shearing at the rate set, taking readings of all three dial gauges at one minute
intervals (constant intervals of horizontal movement) until the maximum travel of the
machine is reached.

Reporting of Results

(i) Prepare tables of time (min.), h (mm), L (mm), proving ring divisions (mm), S (kN), A
(mm2), (kPa) and n (kPa) for each of the initial normal stress levels, recording the proving
ring constant.

(ii) Plot versus L and h versus L for each of the initial normal stress levels.

(iii) Plot the peak shear strength failure envelopes on versus n axes and hence obtain values for
the peak angle of internal friction.

Comment on the results of parts (iii) and (iv).

Comment on the relative advantages, disadvantages and limitations of the triaxial and direct shear
tests for obtaining the shear strength of (i) a sand, and (ii) a clay.

The University of Queensland, 2009 2-3

CIVL3210 Geotechnical Engineering Exercise 3 Permeability and Seepage

Exercise 3 - Permeability and Seepage

A. PERMEABILITY

1. Introduction

Due to the very large range of permeability in soils, no one method is suitable for the laboratory
determination of permeability for all soils. For soils with coefficients of permeability (k) down to
about 10-4 m/s, the constant head permeameter is generally used. Clean sands and gravels fall into
this category. For soils with k values between 10-4 and 10-7 m/s, the falling head permeameter is
generally used and this category covers fine grained sands and silty and clayey sands. Indirect
methods, based on a consolidation test of dissipation test, are generally used for soils with k values
below 10-7 m/s.

In this exercise the coefficient of permeability of a clean sand is determined in a constant head
permeameter.

2. Apparatus and Notation

Constant water
Water supply level

Waste
Constant water
level h

L Sample

Porous disc

Notation

A sample cross-sectional area

H head difference between input and output pots
L overall sample length between porous stones
h head difference between measuring points
i hydraulic gradient = h/_
k coefficient of permeability
x distance between measuring points
q flow rate from sample (volume/unit time)
The University of Queensland, 2009 3-1
CIVL3210 Geotechnical Engineering Exercise 3 Permeability and Seepage

3. Calculations

For the flow of water through a water saturated soil Darcy's law applies, that is:

q q.x
= = (1)
A.i A.h

Darcy's law becomes invalid for a degree of saturation of less than about 85%.

4. Exercise

(i) Obtain the k value of the clean sand by measuring the parameters in equation (1).

(ii) By comparing the overall hydraulic gradient with that between measuring points, determine
the head loss external to the measuring length.

Why does Darcy's law become invalid for a degree of saturation of less than about 85%?

B. SEEPAGE

1. Introduction

Based on the analogy between the differential equations governing the flow of electric current and
those governing the flow of water in homogeneous isotropic media, flow nets may be determined
using an electrical analogue. Voltage in the electrical analogue corresponds to piezometric head,
conductivity to permeability and current to velocity. The electrical analogue involves the use of
conducting paper in place of a seepage zone. To obtain equipotential lines, the conducting paper is
cut through at all impervious boundaries and a voltage potential is applied to the equipotential
boundaries, such as a free surface. To ensure low electrical resistance where the voltage potential is
applied the equipotential boundaries are covered with a silver paint. Flow lines may be obtained by
cutting through the conducting paper at all equipotential boundaries and applying a voltage
potential to the impervious boundaries. Voltage drops are located using a probe and voltmeter to
obtain either equipotential lines or flow lines.

In this exercise the equipotential lines and flow lines for a particular seepage case are obtained
using an electrical analogue.

The University of Queensland, 2009 3-2

CIVL3210 Geotechnical Engineering Exercise 3 Permeability and Seepage

2. Seepage Zone

7m 15 m

Weir

1m
1m

x y z

6m
10 m

Permeable Soil

Impermeable Rock

3. CALCULATIONS

The flow rate per unit width through each flow tube of a flow net is given by:

k.
q=

where H is the head difference between upstream and downstream;

is the number of potential drops between equipotential lines within the seepage zone.

The flow rate per unit width through the entire seepage zone is given by :

q= k. ,

where N is the number of flow tubes.

At any point within the seepage zone the pore pressure is calculated from the total head equation
H = u/w + z. where H is the total head and z is the elevation at the point.

The University of Queensland, 2009 3-3

CIVL3210 Geotechnical Engineering Exercise 3 Permeability and Seepage

4. Exercise

(i) Using an electrical analogue, obtain the flow net for the seepage case given.

(ii) Count the number of flow tubes N and the number of potential drops between
equipotential lines to obtain the value of N /

(iii) If the soil represented by the conducting paper has a coefficient of permeability k equal to
that obtained in Part A, calculate the rate of flow per unit width through the seepage zone.

(iv) Calculate the approximate pore pressures at points x, y and z and comment on the values
obtained.

(v) Calculate and plot the hydrostatic uplift pressure acting on the base of the structure.

The University of Queensland, 2009 3-4

CIVL3210 Geotechnical Engineering Exercise 4 Rod Model Exercises

Exercise 4 - Rod Model Exercises

1. Introduction

In this exercise theoretical solutions are compared with the results of exercises using a rod model in
place of real soil. The rod model is also used to demonstrate failure mechanisms.

2. Exercise

2.1 Shallow Footing

a) Theory

Calculate the ultimate bearing capacity of a strip footing for embedments of 15 mm and 50 mm
using Terzaghi's formula:

1
qu = c.c + .D.q + ..
2
where qu is ultimate bearing capacity
c is rod model cohesion = 0
is bulk unit weight = 11 kN/m3
D is footing embedment = 15 mm and 50 mm
Nq = 18 ( =27)
B is footing width = 100 mm
N = 13 ( =27)

b) Rod Model

Using the model strip footing in the rod model, with initial footing embedments of 15 mm and 50
mm, apply load to the footing via a lever to estimate the ultimate bearing capacity of the footing at
the two embedments. Sketch any observed movements within the rods as the ultimate bearing
capacity is approached. Compare the exerciseally determined ultimate bearing capacities with the
theoretical values and discuss any differences.

A number of excavation/backfilling procedures are used to demonstrate different failure

mechanisms for retaining walls.

a) Using the model gravity retaining wall with no rods in front of the wall, add rods (backfill)
behind the wall to cause failure. What is the mechanism of failure? Sketch any observed
movements within the rods on failure.

b) Using the model gravity retaining wall with rods (backfill) behind the wall to its crest and
initially with rods up to about half height in front of the wall, remove (excavate) rods from in
The University of Queensland, 2009 4-1
CIVL3210 Geotechnical Engineering Exercise 4 Rod Model Exercises

front of the wall to cause failure. What is the mechanism of failure? Sketch any observed
movements within the rods on failure.

c) Using the model cantilever retaining wall with rods in front of the wall, add rods (backfill)
behind the wall to cause failure. What is the mechanism of failure? Sketch any observed
movements within the rods on failure.

2.3 Propped Bulkhead

a) Theory

For the propped bulkhead shown calculate the prop load required to just support the bulkhead with
(i) 220 mm depth of rods in front of the bulkhead and (ii) 110 mm depth of rods in front of the
bulkhead. Assume Rankine active and passive states behind and in front of the bulkhead,
respectively. The thickness of the rod model is 134 mm. The rod model has zero cohesion, and
angle of internal friction of 27 and a unit weight of 11 kN/m3. Add 20% to the calculated prop
loads to allow for the approximate lateral pressure distribution used.

110 mm
ACTIVE
Prop

Aluminium
435 mm
Model Bulkhead

PASSIVE

b) Rod Model

Install the aluminium model bulkhead in the rod model about 200 mm from the load cell and to a
depth such that the prop between the load cell and the model bulkhead is located about 110 mm
down from the top of the bulkhead. Commerce with rods to within 150 mm of the top of the
bulkhead and to the top of the bulkhead in front of and behind the bulkhead, respectively, and with
the prop just in contact. Remove (excavate) rods from in front of the bulkhead to levels given by (i)
and (ii) in (a). At each level, plot the deflected shape of the bulkhead and record the prop load.

Simulate a yielding of the prop by slowly shortening it by 10 mm. Plot the new deflected shape and
record the prop load.

Carefully remove further rods from in front of the bulkhead to cause failure. Describe the
mechanism of failure and sketch the observed movements within the rods.
The University of Queensland, 2009 4-2
CIVL3210 Geotechnical Engineering Exercise 4 Rod Model Exercises

Compare the exerciseally and theoretically determined prop loads and discuss any differences.

2.4 Strutted Excavation

a) Theory

For the strutted excavation shown calculated a set of strut loads assuming the Rankine active state
exists behind the sheeting. Ignore any contribution from the sheeting. The thickness of the rod
model is 134 mm. The rod model has zero cohesion, an angle of internal friction of 27 and a unit
weight of 11 kN/m3.

Strut 80 mm

320 mm
Strut 80 mm

Strut 80 mm Perspex Model

Sheeting

80 mm

Also calculate the strut loads based on a uniform distribution of lateral pressure given by 0.65KaH,

where Ka is the Rankine active earth pressure coefficient

and H is the height of the excavation.

b) Rod Model

Install the Perspex model sheeting in the rod model about 200 mm from the load cells and with the
indentations for struts in line with the centre of each load cell. Commence with rods ot the top of
the sheeting on both sides. Remove (excavate) rods from between the sheeting and load cells,
progressively installing struts. Excavate to the full depth of the sheeting. Record the loads on
existing struts before each new strut is installed and on all struts on final excavation. Plot graphs of
strut load against excavation depth.

Simulate failure of the strutted excavation by progressively removing struts, starting from the top.
Record loads on remaining struts up to failure and comment on any changes in strut load. Describe
the mechanism of failure and sketch the observed movements within the rods.

Compare the measured and theoretically determined strut loads and discuss any differences.