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Geotechnical Frontiers 2017 GSP 281 352

Evaluation of a Simplified Soil Constitutive Model Considering the Implied


Strength and Porewater Pressure Generation for 1-D Seismic Site Response

Xuan Mei, S.M.ASCE1; Scott M. Olson, Ph.D., P.E., M.ASCE2; and


Youssef M.A. Hashash, Ph.D., P.E., F.ASCE3
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1
Graduate Student, Dept. of Civil and Environ. Eng., Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign,
Urbana. E-mail: xuanmei2@illinois.edu
2
Associate Professor, Dept. of Civil and Environ. Eng., Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign,
Urbana. E-mail: olsons@illinois.edu
3
Professor, Dept. of Civil and Environ. Eng., Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana. E-
mail: hashash@illinois.edu

Abstract

Porewater pressure (PWP) generation leads to soil softening and potential liquefaction of sandy
soils during earthquakes, and can decrease ground motion amplitudes at high frequencies and
increase the predominant period of shaking. This paper presents an evaluation of the generalized
Quadratic/Hyperbolic constitutive model (Groholski et al. 2016) coupled with two PWP
generation models, termed GQ/H+u, as implemented in DEEPSOIL V 6.1 (Hashash et al. 2016).
The GQ/H+u model can represent large-strain shear strength and thus provides more realistic
response at liquefiable sites where large strains are expected. First, sets of cyclic direct simple
shear tests were used to evaluate the models. Comparisons of measured and computed stress-
strain loops and excess PWP generation illustrate that the model reasonably captures measured
cyclic stress-strain and PWP responses. The GQ/H+u model also can reasonably capture
acceleration time histories and response spectra measured in centrifuge tests in loose and dense
sands subjected to strong shaking.

INTRODUCTION

Soil softening and liquefaction in loose sandy soils are pervasive problems during earthquakes.
Furthermore, the generation of excess porewater pressure (PWP) and resulting soil softening can
significantly impact ground motion propagation due to the reduction in soil stiffness. These
effects result in significant design challenges for geotechnical and structural engineers. However,
in practice, liquefaction and site response analyses typically are performed in a total-stress
framework and do not consider the effects of PWP generation in the analyses.
In recent years, computational advances have enabled the introduction of PWP generation
in site response analyses to represent liquefaction. By coupling the constitutive model (which
describes soil stress-strain behavior during shaking) and PWP generation model (which predicts
PWP increase during shaking), more realistic soil behavior can be simulated. For example,
Matasovic (1993) proposed a quasi-coupled model by introducing degradation indexes for shear
stress and shear modulus to link the hyperbolic constitutive (MKZ) and Vucetic and Dobry (1986)
PWP generation models. However, typical hyperbolic constitutive models are not able to
represent properly large-strain shear strength. Numerous advanced, mechanics-based constitutive
models that more accurately capture cyclic soil behavior recently have been proposed; however

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these models require many calibration parameters and evaluating these parameters is difficult,
limiting their use in practice.
Considering these issues, a simplified, generalized Quadratic/Hyperbolic constitutive
model coupled with PWP generation models proposed by Vucetic and Dobry (1986) and Polito et
al. (2008), termed GQ/H+u (Groholski et al. 2016), is evaluated in this paper. The GQ/H+u
model captures both small-strain soil behavior as well as shear strength at large strain. Therefore,
this coupled model can provide more realistic response at liquefiable sites where large strains are
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expected during shaking. Cyclic direct simple shear tests (Wu et al. 2003) were used to evaluate
model performance. Comparing stress-strain loops and excess PWP generation indicates that the
GQ/H+u model reasonably captures many important aspects of soil response, including stiffness
reduction and cyclic shear stress, until dilation is severe. The model then is used to evaluate
dynamic centrifuge tests involving liquefiable sands. The results indicate that although the
simplified GQ/H+u model cannot simulate dilation, it can still be used to evaluate sites where
liquefaction may occur and provides reasonable estimates of response spectra.

POREWATER PRESSURE GENERATION MODELS

Vucetic-Dobry Model. Vucetic and Dobry (1986) developed a unique relationship among PWP
ratio (ru), cyclic shear strain (γc), and number of loading cycles (Nc) based on the results of
undrained, strain-controlled cyclic triaxial compression tests, as:
( )
r , = Equation 1
( )
where ru,N = residual excess PWP ratio at cycle N; f = 1 or 2 depending on whether cyclic loading
is generated by one- or two-directional loading; p, F, and s = curve-fitting constants; and γtvp =
volumetric threshold shear strain, defined as the shear strain threshold below which no significant
PWP is generated during cyclic loading. This shear strain falls between 0.01 and 0.02% for most
sands (Dobry et al. 1982). Mei et al. (2015) recommended values of p = s =1 for the curve-fitting
parameters for clean sands. Figure 1 presents their proposed correlation between the parameter F
and soil index properties Dr (relative density) and CU (coefficient of uniformity).

GMP Model. Energy-based models attempt to link excess PWP generation to the energy
dissipated per unit volume of soil during cyclic loading. Although numerous energy-based
models exist, the Green-Mitchell-Polito (GMP) model proposed by Green et al. (2000) and Polito
et al. (2008) is best known. In the GMP model, ru is estimated as:
ru = ≤1 Equation 2
where Ws = energy dissipated per unit volume of soil divided by the initial effective mean stress;
and PEC = pseudo-energy capacity. For undrained cyclic triaxial and simple shear tests,
respectively, increments in Ws are related to increments in stress and strain as:
∆Ws = ∑ (τ + τ )(γ − γ ) Equation 3

where n = number of load increments applied to specimen; , and γ , = applied shear


stresses and shear strains at load increments “i” and “i+1”. Polito et al. (2008) related PEC to Dr
for sands with FC < 35% as:

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ln(PEC) = exp(0.0139Dr) – 1.021 Equation 4

The GMP energy-based model does not require transient earthquake excitation to be
converted to a number of equivalent harmonic loading cycles, and captures the effects of stress or
strain history on γ – ru response by relating Δu to ΔWs.
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Parameter, F

Figure 1. Correlation to estimate parameter F in Vucetic-Dobry PWP generation model.

IMPLIED SHEAR STRENGTH-BASED CONSTITUTIVE MODEL

Backbone Curves. Selecting dynamic properties such as modulus reduction and damping curves
is necessary for site response analysis. In practice, when site-specific dynamic soil properties are
not available, constitutive model parameters are calibrated using generic modulus reduction and
damping curves correlated to site-specific soil index properties, such as those proposed by
Darendeli (2001) and Menq (2003). However, these generic curves often were derived from
resonant column tests, which measures stress-strain soil behavior at small shear strains (γ < 0.3%)
and the curves are extrapolated to larger shear strains. Hashash et al. (2010) showed that the
implied shear strength may be incorrect when the modulus reduction curve is extrapolated to
large shear strain. This can result in significantly over- or underestimating the shear strain profile.
Groholski et al. (2016) developed a new general Quadratic/Hyperbolic (GQ/H) model to
solve this issue. The GQ/H model provides a small-strain shear modulus equal to the measured
maximum shear modulus, and it reaches a maximum large-strain shear stress by forcing the
backbone curve to approach the target (implied) shear strength asymptotically. Matching the
implied shear strength is a significant improvement over typical hyperbolic models that yield
implied shear strengths that approach either infinity or zero as shear strain approaches infinity.
Considering that shear strains exceeding 0.3% is common at liquefiable sites, GQ/H model is
used in this research. The backbone curve in GQ/H model is defined as:

τ=τ 1+ − {1 + ( ) −4 Equation 5

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where τ = shear stress; τmax =shear strength at failure; δG = modulus degradation index; γ =
current shear strain; δτ = shear stress degradation index; γr = Gmax/τmax; Gmax = maximum shear
modulus; and θτ = curve fitting parameter.
PWP generation is incorporated into the cyclic stress-strain response using the Matasovic
(1993) modulus and shear stress degradation indices, δG and δτ, respectively, which adjust the
unloading-reloading equations to incorporate stiffness reduction resulting from PWP generation.
The degradation indices are expressed as:
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= 1− Equation 6
=1− Equation 7

where ν = curve fitting parameter. During the second and subsequent cycles, as PWP is generated
and ru increases, and are updated. Shear modulus and shear stresses are thus degraded as
shear modulus and shear stresses are multiplied by the degradation indices.
Figure 2 compares an example backbone curve generated by the GQ/H model and a
commonly used hyperbolic model, MKZ (Matasovic 1993). The Darendeli (2001) modulus
reduction curve was used as the reference curve, and a large-strain friction angle of 30° was
assumed. As shown in Figure 2, the modulus reduction and backbone curves are similar to the
reference curve at small shear strain. However, at large shear strain the GQ/H backbone curve
approaches the target shear strength asymptotically and shows stiffer behavior than the MKZ
model which does not match the large-strain shear strength.
G/Gmax

/ 'v0

Figure 2. Comparison of curve fitting results between GQ/H model and MKZ models

Hysteretic Behavior. Hysteretic behavior often is simulated using the extended Masing rules
(Masing 1926). However, Masing rules-based hysteretic damping overestimates damping at large
shear strain. To overcome this shortcoming, Phillips and Hashash (2009) proposed a modulus
reduction factor, F(γmax), to modify the Masing rules.

F(γ ) = p − p (1 − ) Equation 8

where p1, p2, and p3 are parameters used to fit the target damping curve. Combining the Masing
rules and reduction factor F(γmax), the unloading-reloading equation can be expressed as:

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τ = F(γ ) − 1+ − 1+ − 4δ θ −

G δ (γ − γ ) +G δ (γ − γ )+τ Equation 9
where Gγmax = shear modulus at γmax; β and s = curve-fitting parameters; γr = reference shear
strain; γrev = reversal shear strain; γmax = maximum shear strain; and τrev = reversal shear stress.
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LABORATORY TEST VALIDATION

Cyclic direct simple shear (cDSS) tests from Wu et al. (2003) were used to evaluate the GQ/H+u
model’s ability to capture soil stress-strain response and PWP generation (using Vucetic-Dobry
and GMP models) under relatively simple shearing conditions.
Figure 3 shows an example cDSS test (MS 65J) performed on Monterey sand. The results
indicate that the Vucetic-Dobry and GMP models both generally capture PWP generation when ru
< 0.7. When ru > 0.7, the Vucetic-Dobry model reasonably follows the measured PWP generation
while the GMP model overpredicts excess PWP. In deriving calibration parameters for the
Vucetic-Dobry model, Mei et al. (2015) incorporated indirectly the effect of compressibility on
PWP generation, resulting in improved ru estimates.

Figure 3. Comparison of measured and predicted ru time history. (a) Vucetic-Dobry


model; (b) GMP model. Residual PWP = ru value at point in loading cycle when τ = 0.

Figure 4 compares measured and computed individual stress-strain loops corresponding to


different ru values from the same cDSS test, and Figure 5 compares the entire measured and
computed stress-strain response during the test. Analytical stress-strain loops were computed
using the test-measured shear strains and Eqs. 5 and 9. Values of ru computed from Vucetic-
Dobry and GMP models were updated at strain reversals to incorporate the effect of soil
softening. The comparison for the GMP model in Figure 5(d) is terminated when the computed ru
= 1. As shown in the figures, the reduction in soil stiffness and cyclic shear stresses are simulated
reasonably by the GQ/H+u model for ru < 0.7. However, when ru > 0.9, the effects of soil dilation
become obvious and are not represented by the model.
To quantitatively evaluate the GQ/H+u model, the tangent modulus was computed between
the two reversal shear strains (for each hysteresis loop) at different ru values for each test. Figure
6 presents a comparison between measured and computed tangent modulus for the same cDSS
test. This comparison illustrates that the GQ/H+u model generally captures the reduction in
stiffness until ru is large and dilation is severe. Nevertheless, as discussed in the next section,

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while the GQ/H+u model cannot simulate dilation at large ru values, computed response using the
GQ/H+u model still reasonably matches measured response spectra of liquefiable sands.
Shear Stress (kpa)

Shear Stress (kpa)


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Shear Stress (kpa)

Shear Stress (kpa)

Figure 4. Comparison of individual measured and computed stress-strain loops at


different ru. (a) ru = 0.3; (b) ru = 0.56; (c) ru = 0.7; and (d) ru = 0.9.
20 20
(a) (b)
10 10

0 0

-10 -10

-20 -20
-2 -1.5 -1 -0.5 0 0.5 1 1.5 2 -2 -1.5 -1 -0.5 0 0.5 1 1.5 2
Shear Strain (%) Shear Strain (%)
Figure 5. Comparison of measured and computed stress-strain response using the
GQ/H+u model with (a) Vucetic-Dobry PWP model; and (b) GMP PWP model.

CENTRIFUGE TEST VALIDATION

To further evaluate the GQ/H+u model, computed site response was compared to the response of
a centrifuge test conducted by Wilson et al. (1997). Test CSP02 consisted of 9 m of loose (Dr =
35%) Nevada sand overlying 11 m of dense (Dr = 75%) Nevada sand, a uniform, fine-grained
sand with a hydraulic conductivity of 3.9 to 6.6 x 10-3 cm/s in this Dr range (Arulmoli et al. 1992).
To calibrate the Vs profile for site response analysis, a weak motion (pga = 0.05g) that generated
little excess PWP and induced small shear strains was used. Correlations from Seed and Idriss
(1970), Bardet et al. (1993), and Menq (2003) were used to compute maximum shear modulus.
Darendeli (2001) modulus reduction and damping curves were used in the analysis. Site response
analyses using the GQ/H+u model indicated that Gmax computed by Menq (2003) provided the

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best fit to the measured response. The GQ/H+u model using both the Vucetic-Dobry and GMP
PWP models then was evaluated using a strong motion (pga = 0.5g).
Tangent Modulus (GPa) Tangent Modulus (GPa)
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Figure 6. Comparison of measured and computed tangent modulus at different ru. (a) ru
= 0.3; (b) ru = 0.56; (c) ru = 0.7; and (d) ru = 0.9.

Figure 7. Comparison of measured and computed results in dense and loose layers of
centrifuge test subjected to strong ground motion.

Figure 7 compares the measured and computed results. In the dense layer, the computed
acceleration time history and response spectrum using both PWP models agree with the measured

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response, indicating the good performance of the GQ/H+u model for ru < 0.5. In the loose layer,
the GQ/H+u results also reasonably agree with the measured response. Differences are observed
in the acceleration time history and response spectrum at high frequencies because the GQ/H+u
cannot simulate dilation spikes at high ru values. However, dilation did not occur until ru was high
(soil was nearly liquefied), and as shown in Figure 7, the dilation spikes had a limited effect on
PWP generation. Although the dilation spikes cause ru to drop temporarily, ru generally increases
steadily. Lastly, although differences are observed at high frequency, spectral accelerations at
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medium to long periods are well-estimated, which can be important for structural design.
Although PWP dissipation was not considered in this paper, DEEPSOIL can couple the
GQ/H+u model with Terzaghi 1-D consolidation theory to allow users to consider PWP
dissipation (Hashash et al. 2016). Lastly, DEEPSOIL does not compute plastic volumetric
deformations and associated settlements. Future research and validation are needed to solve this
issue.

CONCLUSION

Here, the authors use cyclic laboratory tests and a dynamic centrifuge test to evaluate a simplified
generalized Quadratic/Hyperbolic constitutive model (Groholski et al. 2016), termed GQ/H+u,
which represents large-strain shear strength and is coupled with PWP generation models
proposed by Vucetic and Dobry (1986) and Polito et al. (2008). The GQ/H+u model is shown to
reasonably approximate stress-strain and porewater pressure (PWP) response over a fairly wide
range of relative density. However, the GQ/H+u model cannot simulate dilation when the excess
PWP ratio is high (ru > 0.9). This causes some differences in high frequency response; however,
dilation spikes generally occur when ru is high (soil is nearly liquefied) and dilation has a limited
effect on PWP generation. Furthermore, although differences in measured and computed
response spectra occur at high frequencies, spectral accelerations at medium to long period are
well-estimated, which may be more important for structural design. These observations suggest
that the GQ/H+u may be valid for evaluating liquefaction in an effective-stress analysis.

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