Posted in Uncategorized

Estimating Load-Deflection Characteristics for the Shaft Resistance of Piles Using Hyperbolic Strain Softening

The latest research from this site is an offshoot of the STADYN project. The abstract is as follows:

Hyperbolic soil modelling and strain softening have become better understood in recent years; however, their application to modelling load-deflection characteristics for the shaft of both bored and driven piles is in the early stages of development. This paper proposes a method that is based strictly on the strain-softening changes in shear modulus that is experienced to varying degrees around the pile shaft. A dimensionless method is proposed which can be transformed to a physical estimate using simple soil parameters.

You can download the paper here or find it on ResearchGate.

Posted in Geotechnical Engineering

G-I Geo Legends Series Interviews Harry Poulos

Most geotechnical engineers will recognize the name Harry Poulos. The Geo-Institute’s Geo-Legends series recently posted an interview with Professor Poulos of Coffey Engineering and the University of Sydney. He has worked on the foundations of some of the most well-known skyscrapers in the world in Dubai and elsewhere.

G-I Geo Legends Series Interviews Harry Poulos
Posted in Geotechnical Engineering, Soil Mechanics

Resolving the Issue of Jean-Louis Briaud’s “Pet Peeve” (or at least clarifying the problem)

Three years ago I posted Jean-Louis Briaud’s “Pet Peeve” on the Analysis of Consolidation Settlement Results. Since that time he has been elected President of the American Society of Civil Engineers and I am in the process of retiring from full-time teaching, so our trajectories are a little different. (He’ll catch up, don’t worry.)

Nevertheless his Presidency would go unfinished if some explanation of the pet peeve wasn’t given. To remind my readers it is as follows:

The consolidation e versus log p’ curve is a stress-strain curve. Typically, stress-strain curves are plotted as stress on the vertical axis and strain on the horizontal axis. Both axes are on normal scales, not log scales. It’s my view that consolidation curves should be plotted in a similar fashion: effective vertical stresses on the vertical axis in arithmetic scale, and normal strain on the horizontal axis in arithmetic scale. When doing so, the steel ring confining the test specimen influences the the measurements and skews the stiffness data. Indeed the stress-strain curve, which usually has a downward curvature, has an upward curvature in such a plot.

This post won’t be very rigourous or mathematically detailed, but more of a qualitative statement of the problem. Perhaps a proper solution will solve this dilemma; I think it certainly needs it.

To start, let’s pick up where we left off, with the E vs. \epsilon plot below:

It was noted at the time that the apparent elastic modulus increased more or less (that’s about as good as it gets with most geotechnical phenomena) linearly with strain.

From this, it can be noted that the shear modulus can be estimated for a soil (excluding strain-softening effects) as follows:


where the notation is shown in the source. Let’s make some assumptions:

  • Poisson’s ratio remains constant, thus the relationship between strain and elastic modulus is constant.
  • S is constant for a given soil type.
  • Effective stress \sigma_o for a given sample (that’s just about a given for triaxial tests in any event)
  • Other constants, such as p_{atm} and \bar{n} also remain constant.

That leaves the variable F(e) to change. The shear (and by extension the elastic) modulus of a material is a function of the void ratio. From the same source,


We can convert this to strain by noting the following relationship, which is written so that compressive strain is positive:

\epsilon={\frac {{\it e_0}-{\it e_1}}{1+{\it e_0}}}

Substituting that into the equation before it yields

F(e) = -{\frac {1}{\left (1+{\it e0}\right )^{3}\left (-1+\epsilon\right )^{3}}}

Let’s consider the case of e_0 = 1 . Substituting that into the previous equation and plotting it yields the following result:

It’s not perfect, but it’s close to a linear relationship, at least in the strains under consideration. And, of course, it shows an increasing shear modulus with increasing strain (or decreasing void ratio.)

Verruijt makes two important observations that should be noted. The first is his commentary on the image below, in the caption.

When performing the test, it is observed, as expected, that the increase of vertical stress caused by a loading from say 10 kPa to 20 kPa leads to a larger deformation than a loading from 20 kPa to 30 kPa. The sample becomes gradually stiffer, when the load increases. Often it is observed that an increase from 20 kPa to 40 kPa leads to the same incremental deformation as an increase from 10 kPa to 20 kPa. And increasing the load from 40 kPa to 80 kPa gives the same additional deformation. Each doubling of the load has about the same effect. This suggests to plot the data on a semi-logarithmic scale. In this figure log(σ/σ0 ) has been plotted against ε, where σ0 denotes the initial stress. The test results appear to form a straight line, approximately, on this scale. The logarithmic relation between vertical stress and strain has been found first by Terzaghi, around 1930.

The second is his comment on the use of strain vs. void ratio:

It is of course unfortunate that different coefficients are being used to describe the same phenomenon. This can only be explained by the historical developments in different parts of the world. It is especially inconvenient that in both formulas the constant is denoted by the character C, but in one form it appears in the numerator, and in the other one in the denominator.

The need to treat compression due to settlement completely differently than that of elastic (or elasto-plastic) settlement is one of the anomalies of geotechnical engineering. The observation that the elastic modulus decreases with void ratio (or increases with strain) is a start in putting the two together and presenting a more or less unified theory of soil deformation. Coupled with agreement on using strain in consolidation tests, this would bring us a long way to solving the dilemma of Jean-Louis Briaud’s–and some of the rest of our–pet peeves.

Posted in Academic Issues, Geotechnical Engineering

An Anniversary, An Announcement and Looking Ahead

Today is an anniversary I’ve commemorated before: it’s the anniversary this web site/blog (take your pick) got its start as the Wave Equation Page for Piling. It’s been twenty-four years since I put the first pages on GeoCities, and it’s been going (with spin-offs) ever since. It’s time for a little looking back, and some looking forward too.

The year 2020 was traumatic for just about everyone but it was a good year for this site. It was even a better year in that most of the traffic to the site came from outside the United States (that trend has continued into 2021.) This is in spite of the fact that my students at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga mostly access it from within the country, having no small part in the visits/page views for the site. (I say mostly; a few actually did so from outside the country, as they were forced to continue their coursework from overseas due to COVID.)

One of the long-term goals of this site has been to disseminate knowledge about geotechnical engineering to where it’s needed most: to developing countries which need to build their infrastructure and bring a better life to their citizens. In the first decade of this millennium, it tended to dominate the field, but realistically this is no longer the case. Nevertheless it remains an important resource in a shifting internet, and in a field where social media cannot (or at least has not) replaced the open internet.

One thing that has helped this change–and the long-term value of this site–has been the growing educational component of the site in Soil Mechanics, Soil Mechanics Laboratory and Foundations classes. I have taught consistently at UTC since 2009 and have put up most of my educational material for these courses on this site. The COVID pandemic only accelerated that; I taught this past academic year completely online, which necessitated putting the lectures onto YouTube. This means that one can take entire courses (except for the homework and tests) on this site, or use this material as a facilitator for online courses.

That leads to the next announcement: I am retiring from full-time teaching at the end of the month. There’s a lot of academic “inside baseball” in that, but I will revert to adjunct teaching after that time, as I did before my full-time appointment in 2019. I will continue, Lord willing, to teach in the immediate future, and also plan to continue to build this site with new educational materials of all kinds, both for the courses and for the documents that have been a hallmark of this site from its earliest times.

As always, thanks for your support, or as I say at the end of all my videos, thanks for watching and God bless.

Posted in Soil Mechanics

Soil Mechanics Textbook by Tsytovich Available

Up until now the only comprehensive soil mechanics textbook we offered for download was Verruijt’s. We now add to that N. Tsytovich’s Soil Mechanics. Download is at the link or at the book cover below; information on the book is as follows:

This is a textbook in the course of Soil Mechanics for higher-school students of civil engineering and hydrotechnical engineering, and also for students of other specialties associated with construc­tion of engineering structures, such as road constructors, ameliorators, geologists, soil scientists.

The Author has made an attempt to write a concise course on the basis of a wide synthesis of natural sciences and to present the theore­tical data in the most simple and comprehensive form, without depreciating, however, the general scientific aspect of the problem; his other aim was to present a number of engineering solutions of problems in the theory of soil mechanics (calculations of strength, stability and deformability), which might be widely used in engi­neering.

Some problems in the book are discussed from new standpoints which take into account the principal properties of soils: contact shear resistance, structure-phase deformability (including creep of skeleton), compressibility of gas-containing porous water, and the effect of natural compaction of soils.

The book shows some new methods used for determination of characteristics of soils and gives some new solutions of the theory of consolidation and creep of soils, which can be used for predictions of settlement rates of foundations of structures and their time varia­tions; a separate chapter discusses rheological processes in soils and their significance.

Topics include the following:

    • Geological Conditions of Soil Formation
    • Components of Soils
    • Structural Bonds and Structure of Soils
    • Physical Properties and Classification Indices of Soils
    • Compressibility of Soils. The Law of C o m p a c t i o n
    • Water Perviousness of Soils. The Law of Laminar Filtration
    • Ultimate Contact Shear Resistance of Soils. Strength Conditions
    • Structural-Phase Deformability of Soils
    • Features of the Physical Properties of Structurally Unstable
      Subsidence Soils
    • Stress Distribution in the Case of a Three-Dimensional Problem
    • Stress Distribution in the Case of a Planar Problem
    • Pressure Distribution over the Base of the Foundation of
      Structures (Contact Problem)
    • Stressed State Phases of Soils with an Increase in Load
    • Equations of Ultimate Equilibrium for Loose and Cohesive
    • Critical Loads on Soil
    • Stability of Soils in Landslides
    • Some Problems of the Theory of Soil Pressure on Retaining Walls
    • Soil Pressure on Underground Pipelines
    • Kinds and Causes of Deformations
    • Elastic Deformations of Soils and Methods for Their Determi­nation
    • One-Dimensional Problem of the Theory of Soil Consolidation
    • Planar and Three-Dimensional Problems in the Theory of Fil­tration Consolidation of Soils
    • Prediction of Foundation Settlements by the Layerwise Summa­tion Method
    • Prediction of Foundation Settlements by Equivalent Soil Layer Method
    • Stress Relaxation and Long-Term Strength of Cohesive Soils
    • Creep Deformations in Soils and Methods for Their Description
    • Account of Soil Creep in Predictions of Foundation Settlements
    • Dynamic Effects on S o i l s
    • Wave Processes in Soils under Dynamic Loads
    • Changes in the Properties of Soils Subject to Dynamic Effects
    • The Principal Prerequisites for Taking the Dynamic Proper­
      ties of Soils into Account in Vibrational Calculations of Founda­tions