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B . LADANYI, Ph.D., Dept . o f Mi ni ng Engi neeri ng
Ecole pol yt echni que, Mon t r e ol
W. J . EDEN, Soil Mechani cs Se c t i on, Division o f Bui l di ng Research
Not i onoI Res ear ch Counci l o f Conodo, Ot t o wo
SYNOPSIS Th e deep penetration t es t was subjected t o t ri al s i n both the field and laboratory as a possible
method o f &ermining t he undrained shear strength.
I t i s shown that in sensitive c b y s the bearing capacity
factor Nc i s considerably l e s s than 9.
The t ri al s showed that t he deep penetration t est i s a promising method
of measuri ng undrained strengthias it i s not af f ect ed by disturbance and yields a continuous record of undrain-
ed strengths.
Of t he several di f f erent methods proposed for det er-
mining t he undrained strength of saturated clays i n
situ , t he vane t es t has probably been t he one most
commonl y used. Th e vane t es t measures di rect l y
t he ultimate undrained shear strength o f clay on
predetermined f ai l ure planes under conditions
similar t o t hose i n a direct shear t est . Its mai n
advantage i s i t s si mpl i ci t y i n both perf ormance and
interpretation. Th e vane t est i s considered t o
f urni sh reliable r es ul t s in sof t cl ays, provided t he
actual mode o f failure corresponds t o that assumed
in i t s interpretation.
A disadvantage o f t he vane t est i s that it can give
only a discontinuous picture of undrained shear
strength variation in a vert i cal soil profile. Another
disadvantage i s that t he t es t requi res introduction
o f t he vane apparatus into t he soil bef ore t he shear
t es t i s perf ormed. Although t hi s may be o f little
consequence in mos t t ypes o f clays, it i s thought
t o produce a cert ai n amount of disturbance i n
sensi t i ve cl ays, particularly i n t hose of a bri t t l e
t ype (Crawf ord and Eden, 1965; Eden, 1966).
Another t ype of t es t that can be used for t he same
purpose i s t he quasi-static deep penetration t est .
I f t he t es t i s perf ormed by a s el f -recording, f i xed-
point t ype of penetrometer, as was done in t hi s
study, continuous i nf ormat i on on undrained strength
of clay i s obtained, and no objection can be raised
concerning t he e f f e c t of clay disturbance prior t o
t he t est . Th e t es t cannot f urni sh directly, however,
t he value o f t he undrained shear strength (6,) of t he
clay, but t he latter has t o be calculated f r o m t he
measured t i p resi st ance ( q p ) using t he bearing capac
i t y f ormul a
where po i s the total overburden pressure at t he
level of t he point and Nc i s t he bearing capacity
factor. It i s obvious, t heref ore, that a correct
evaluation of penetrometer t est results in saturated
clays will depend on howi ng the numerical value of
t he factor Nc.
On t he basis of t heory and model studies, the value
Nc = 9 has been proposed (Meyerhof , 1951;
Skempton, 1951) and veri f i ed in the field (Meyerhof
and Murdock, 1953). Nc values as low as 5 and as
high as 25 have also been reported in the literature
(Sowers, 1961; Ward, Marsland and Samuels, 19651
It can be seen that t he value of t he bearing capacity
factor &f or deep penetration of saturated clays i s
far f r om being a constant. I t appears t o be i nf l u-
enced by a number of factors such as: ( 1) Over-all
st ress-st rai n behaviour of the clay in undrained
shear; ( 2) rate of penetration; and ( 3) shape of pene-
t romet er point. No systematic investigation of t he
Nc value has been made t o date, however, that
would cover all t hese ef f ect s and include di f f erent
types of natural undisturbed clays. In particular,
t here i s ver y little information available on t he
value of Nc t o be used i n evaluating deep penetra-
tion t est s i n sensitive clays such as those encou-
tered i n Eastern Canada and Scandinavia.
A recent theoretical study (Ladanyi,
1967) shows
that i n such clays Nc values as low as 5 can be
expected. The mai n purpose of the present iqvesti-
gation was t o determine experimentally the values
of t he factor Nc i n typical sensitive clays, as found
- in t he Ottawa area, and t o compare t hese values
with theoretical predictions.
qp = P o + e UNc ................ ( 1 )
For this purpose, two series of penetration t est s
were carried out:
a) omall-scale laboratory tents car r i ed out
with a specially deaigned self-recording penetrom -
et er of 1. 55 cm diameter;
b) field t est s with a commerci al self-recording
cone penetrometer of 3. 57 cm diameter.
Laboratory penetration t est s were performed on
undisturbed specimens of sensitive clays from two
different locations. Field penetration t est s wer e
carri ed out at the same two locations in the Ottawa
Apparatus and Procedure
A smal l cylindrical probe with a flat pr essur e- sen-
sitive transducer installed in the base waa used
(Figure 1) .
For ce t r ansducer
Rol l er bear i ngs
CI 0
Fig. 1 Experimental Arrangement For Laboratory
Penetration Tests.
When mounted in a triaxial pr ess, the assembl y
permitted separate measurement and continuous r e -
cording of both the pr essur e at t he base of the probe
and the total force during penetration.
Undinturbed specimens of clay, obtained in a 5 -in.
Onterberg piston aampler, were placed in a 26-cm-
long split st eel cylinder.
Liquid wax was poured
into the remaining space between t he specimen and
cylinder t o provide uniform l at er al support.
The r at e of penetration was 0. 356 cm/min in all the
tents. Another ser i es of t est s was conducted to
otudy the effect of r at e of penetration with the same
probe mounted in a universal testing machine where
penetration r at es up t o 12.7 cm/min could be
Teat Resulta
Clay specimens from two different locations, at the
National Research Laboratoriea and Clouceater
Naval Station (Crawford and Eden, 1965), wer e us ed
Fi gures 2 and 3 show typical r esul t s of penetration
t est s from each site. The cl ay at the NRC si t e had
a sensitivity ranging from 10 t o 35, water contents
from 72 t o 84 per cent and a field vane
f r om 0. 5 t o 0. 7 kg/sq cm, increasing ni t h depth.
The Gloucester clay had a s2nsitivity oi about 30 t o
a 5 m depth, a water content from 50 t u 70 and a
field vane strength of 0. 25 kg/sq cm.
Dept h
1 0 . 8 0 ~
- 0
u 8
; 10
I- Y
5 12
1 4
Fig. 2 Laboratory Penetration Test : NRC Clay
In Fi gures 2 and 3 the variations with depth of
penetration of the following two q~a nt i t i e s have been
plotted: (1) point resi st ance a s recorded by t he
pr es s ur e transducer at t he base of t he probe, and
(2) skin friction which i s equal to t he difference
where L i s the s k i friction in kg,
Qtot denotea t he
total penetration force recorded by the force t r ans -
ducer, and A = L885 s q cm i s the base a r e a of the
probe. P
Analysis of Test Resul t s
Experimental evidence shows that for a frictionlees
plastic mat er i al the punch has t o penet rat e t o a
depth of at l east 4 di adet er s before t he effect of t he
f r ee surface disappearb and a t r ue deep failure
phenomenon i s attained (Meyerhof, 1951). For this
reason, only t he portion of the r esul t s below the
depth marked by 4d in Fi gures 2 and 3 has been used
in t he following analysis and comparison. The effed
of t he bottom surface of the specimen was made
negligible by stopping penetration at a distance of
mor e than 3 probe di amet ers from the bottom s ur -
Fig. 3 Laboratory Penetration Test , Gloucester
The average resul t from a number of field vane
t est s performed cl ose t o the s ame location was used
for comparison. In Fi gur es 2 and 3 .the average sU
line has been plotted and compared with the paral l el
average qp-line f r om l aborat ory penetration t est s,
which i s shown a s a dashed line. As the overburden
pr essur e was ~r a c t i c a l l y zero in t he laboratory testa,
the experimental average Nc values could be deter -
mined from t he formula:
Nc = %/aU . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (3)
The Nc values so obtained in al l t he t es t s performed
on t he NRC clay were found t o vary f r om 5.71 to
8.00, with an over -all average f r om the s i x t es t s of
Nc = 7. 23. On the other hand, Nc values obtained
from t hr ee t est s on the Gloucester clay, al l from the
same level, did not differ much from t he value
Nc = 6.85 shown in Fi gure 3.
Some additional specimens from the same level were
used for investigating the effect of the r at e of pene-
tration on the measured point resistance.
The teete
were performed in a universal testing machine per -
mitting controlled penetration rat es of up to 12.7 cm/
min to be attained. It was found that for this clay a
tenfold i ncreasei n penetration r at e resulted in an
i ncrease of abbut 7. 5 per cent in tip resistance.
Apparatus and Procedure
The Bor r os penetrometer used 'in the field t est s i s a
self-recording cone penetrometer with a loading
potential up t o 4 tons at the point. The varying load
during penetration i s sensed by electrical resistance
st rai n gauges mounted in a sealed piece behind the
point, and this i s continuously recorded on a con-
stant speed chart. Total resi st ance at the top of the
rods i s not recorded ty this penetrometer. Figure
I Locat i on of
-+-I- , s t r a l n gauges
Fig. 4a The Point of "Borrosl' Penetrometer.
Although a hand-operated jack i s provided for push-
ing the penetrometer into the soil, the t est s were
carri ed out using a hydraulic dri l l rig.
This allowed
the drilling of a borehole through the dried upper
crust and the pushing of the penetrometer into the
soil at a reasonably constant r at e by means of the
hydraulically-operated drillhead. Average r at e of
penetration was about 20 cm/min, with a variation
of about f 5 cmlrnin. During the tests, a constant
r at e of penetratlon was maintained for the full stroke
of the dri l l head (nearly 2 cm).
Test Results
The r esul t s of field penetration t est s a r e shown in
Fi gures 4b and 4c. In these, Qtot, plotted against
depth, represent s the average load m kilograms
regi st ered by the st rai n gauges at the point within
successive 20 -cm intervals.
As the resul t s obtained
L A D A N Y I o n d E D E N
for each location were fai rl y consistent, only t he
A = 5. 6 sq cm; A' = 50 s q cm; a = 0.45; B = 0.10;
average of Q
values measur ed at a given level in
a& 1.015 5 p 5 1. oh.
Fr om t hese, a and Bvalues
al l t est s performed a t a part i cul ar location wer e
correspond t o t he data f r om l aborat ory penet rat i on
used in the following evaluation of the resul t s.
t es t s and p has been evaluated by a n approxi mat e
anal ysi s taking into account aver age shear s t r ai ns
Q T O T A L ~ KC
100 125
produced in t he pl ast i c region surrounding t he point
0 25 50 7 5
during penetration.
O 25 50 7 5 100
- T e s t C - 4
T e s t G- 5
6 -
z 8 -
1 0 -
E 1 2 -
Y 0
Fig. 4b Total Point Resi st ance, Q Recorded i n
Thr ee Field Penet rat i on a t NRG Site. 16
Evaluation of Test Resul t s
Owing t o the part i cul ar shape of the point of the
Bor r os penetrometer and because the st r ai n gauges
a r e located at a cer t ai n distance above the cone, i t 20 1 I
i s considered that the recorded value of Q con-
tains not only the point resi st ance but al so some Fig. 4c Tot al Poi nt Resi st ance, Q Recorded i n
resi st ance due t o l at er al shear along the par t of the Two Fi el d Penet rat i on T ek?~' At ~ l o u c e s t e r
point between the cone and the st r ai n gauges. The Site.
corresponding value of undrained shear strength wa s
t herefore, calculated f r om the expression: Substituting t he above values in Eq. 4, dividing by
5 o t - Ap Po
A p= 10 s q cm, and expressi ng su, Qtot and p i n
s =
( 4) t s q m yields:
u (A N~ t ALa t ALB) ~
P %ot - Po
in which A , A
and A; (Fi gure 4(a)) a r e the a r e a s
8 =
of the bas zof tke cone, t he col l ar, and t he sur f ace
u (Nc t 0. 7 5 2 ) ~
between t he col l ar and t he location of st r ai n gauges,
respectively; a and B a r e reduction coefficients for
Theoret i cal Predi ct i on of Nc value
su taking into account the remoulding and imperfect By extending t he t heory of expansion of a spher i cal
contact, and P i s a st r ai n r at e factor t o enable corn-
cavity in a n infinite medium t o an el ast i c-pl ast i c -
parison of 8
values obtained in the penetration t e s t s
fri ct i onl ess mat er i al charact eri zed by a drop of
with those measured in some other types of t es t s
strength aft er failure, Ladanyi (1967) has shown
performed at a different st rai n rate.
that, for a t ypi cal sensitive clay, an approxi mat e
Nc value can be calculated from the expressi on
For the purpose of evaluating the pr esent t es t r e -
following Eq. (6). The values of sU, s n Es and E,
a u l t ~ . t he numeri cal values of various magnitudes i n
i n t hi s equation correspond t o a simplified s t r e s s -
4. 4 have been taken a s follows: A
= 10 sq ,-,,;
st r ai n plot for the part i cul ar clay obtained i n
undrained cOmPresSion t es t ( Fi gur e 5). The value of r at i o
E /sU would probably be nearer to the
i n t he remoul ded adhesion between t he cone s u r -
face and t he clay.
&own above, Eq. 8 has been chosen f or the
of 6
values shown in Figures 6a and 6b.
fi gures h e s values were obtained by a 110
'a 4 'r 55 mm field vane? The range of sensitivity at
NC =- 8 +- 3 8 - different depths is al so indicated in the figures. The
u u
values shown have been obtained by using average
qot values f r om t he penetration t est s shown in Fi g-
ur ea 4b and 4c, respectively.
5,. KGI CM~
2 S u
E s ' -
E, 25,
b^ Sl rnpl l fl ed
Av g 5, f rom 3 f l el d
........ -zC penet rat i on tests
0 CIP El r & I
Fig. 5 Simplified St r e s s -Strain Behaviour of A
Sensi t i ve Cl ay in Undrained Compressi on
Te s t Assumed in Nc Calculation.
It has been shown (Ladanyi, 1967) t hat for a typical
Leda cl ay f r om t he NRC s i t e with a sensitivity of
about 16 t he following numer i cal values could be
taken f or different r at i os i n Equation 6:
250 s ( E /s ) r 500; (E / sr ) = 16; ( 8 /S ) = 0.45,
(sa/sU) ='o. 35. ~ c c o r J m ~ t o ~ ~ u a t i z n 6: for t he
above r ange of E /sU r at i o t he value of Nc should
then be si t uat edbzt ween 5. 85 SNc s 6.73.
Fo r compari son, it should be noted that for t he s a me
r ange of E /s rat i o, t he s ame anal ysi s would give,
f or an inse%si#ve clay,
8. 22 r Nc 9.15.
Fig. 6a Comparison of s Values Fr om Field Vane
And ~ e n e t r o me t 2 r Tes t s At NRC Site.
It i s evident, t her ef or e, t hat Nc value depends con-
si derabl y on t he post -peak behaviour of t he clay.
Fi gure 6a shows that a t the NRC si t e su values from
A r ecent investigation (Ladanyi et al, 1968) shows
t est s follow approximately t he same
t hat t he dr op in st rengt h i mmedi at el y af t er t he peak
t rend a s t hose f r om field vane t est s. They a r e gen-
i e much mo r e pronounced in sensi t i ve clays than in
erally lower than the aver age from field vane t est s
or di nar y clays. It follows, t herefore, that Nc value
i n absolute value. It i s probable that, owing t o t he
should general l y be expected t o decr eas e with i n-
brittle and jointed charact er of the particular clay,
cr easi ng sensi t i vi t y of clay. t he actual Nc value is lower than that used in t he
It was found that with Nc = 5. 50 t he
Resul t s of Evaluation agreement would be mor e satisfactory, especially
Taking 5.85 s N 56. 73, and 1.015 s p s 1.040, Eq.
below t he 12 m l evel where a highly sensitive clay
5 yields:
i s found.
Es/su = 250: . (Q - 86 . . . . . . . . . . . (7)
compar i son of s values obtained at theG10uceater
u tot
site, (Fi gure 6b), shows a si mi l ar i ncrease in sU
f or
with depth f or t he two types of test.
Es/sU = 500: 6 = (Qtot - po )/7.60 . . . . . . . . . (8)
values calculated f r om Nc = 6- 73 seem to be a
liFtle too high.
A better agreement could have been
Because it was thought t hat for t he cl ay in si t u t he
L A D A N Y I a n d E D E N
obtained if N
had been t aken t o equal about 7. 50.
Fig. 6b Compari son of s Val ues Fr om Fi el d Vane
And ~ e n e t r o me t g r Test s at Gl oucest er Site.
On t he basi s of t hi s investigation, t he following
conclusions a r e suggested:
1. For t he penet rat i on r a t e s used in t he t es t s ,
sensi t i ve cl ays behave duri ng deep punching a s or di -
nary clays: fai l ure occur s without any si gn of even-
t ual liquefaction owing t o high l ocal remoulding.
2. Beari ng capaci t y val ues t hat a r e valid for deep
penet rat i on i n undrained shear a r e lower in s ens i -
t i ve cl ays t han i n or di nar y cl ays.
Inst ead of a value
Nc 4 9 commonly found i n ordi nary cl ays, t he Nc
f or sensi t i ve cl ays var i es from about 5. 50 t o 8. 00,
with the lower val ues occurri ng a t high sensi t i vi t i es.
Actual Nc val ues found in t hi s st udy by using, for
compari son, t he best fi el d vane r es ul t s a r e
5.70 < Nc < 8.00 in l aborat ory penet rat i on t es t s
and 5. 50 < Nc < 7. 50 i n fi el d penet rat i on t est s.
t heory gives Nc = 6.73 for St ~ 1 6 . As Nc is found
t o var y with cl ay sensi t i vi t y, mor e r ecor ds f r om
field and l aborat ory penet rat i on t e s t s will be needed
t o r el at e i t s value mo r e cl osel y with sensi t i vi t y.
Resi st ance t o penet rat i on i nc r e a s e s wi t h in-
cr easi ng r at e of penet rat i on.
The i ncr eas e i n point
r es i s t ance found i n l abor at or y s mal l - s cal e t es t s was
7. 5 per cent for a t enfol d i nc r e a s e in penet rat i on
r at e; t hi s follows t he t r end nor mal l y found in t he
undrai ned compr essi on t est .
It i s concl uded t hat t he
effect of t he r a t e of penet rat i on shoul d be t aken i nt o
. . account when compari ng r es ul t s of deep penet rat i on
t e s t s with r es ul t s of ot her t ypes of fi el d and l abor a-
t or y t e s t s for undrai ned st r engt h det ermi nat i ons.
The aut hor s wi sh t o expr es s t hei r grat i t ude t o t hei r
col l eagues at t he Soi l Mechani cs Sect i on who have
faci l i t at ed t he fi el d and l abor at or y i nvest i gat i ons
descr i bed i n t hi s paper which is publ i shed with t he
approval of t he Di rect or of t he Di vi si on of Building
Resear ch, National Res ear ch Counci l of Canada.
Crawford, C. B. and W. J. Eden, 1965, A compar i -
son of l abor at or y r e s ul t s with i n-si t u pr oper -
t i es of Leda cl ay, Pr o c . , 6th Int ernat . Conf.
Soil Mechs. and Found. Eng. , Mont real .
Vol. 1, p. 31-35.
Eden, W. J. , 1966, An eval uat i on of t he fi el d vane
t es t i n sensi t i ve cl ay, Amer . Soc. Test i ng
Mat s. , STP No. 399, p. 8-17.
Ladanyi, B. , 1967, Deep punching of sensi t i ve
cl ays, Pr oc. , 3r d Panam. Conf. Soi l Mechs.
Found. Eng., Car acas , Vol. 1, p. 533-546.
Ladanyi, B. et al , 1968, Pos t - peak behavi our of
sensi t i ve cl ays i n undrai ned s hear , Can.
Geotech. J., Vol. V, No. 2, p. 59-68.
Meyerhof, G. G. , 1951, The ul t i mat e bear i ng capac -
i t y of foundations, Ggotechnique, Vol. 2,
p. 301-332.
Meyerhof, G. G. and L. J. Murdoch. 1953, An
i nvest i gat i on of t he beari ng capaci t y of s ome
bored and dri ven pi l es i n London cl ay,
GBotechnique, Vol. 3, p. 267-282.
Skempton, A. W. , 1951, The bear i ng capaci t y of
cl ays, Pr oc . , Build. Res. Cong. , London,
p. 180-189.
Sowers, G. F. , 1961, Di scussi on, Sessi on 3B,
Pr oc. , 5th Internat. Conf. Soi l Mechs. Found.
Eng., Pa r i s , Vol. 111, p. 261 -263.
Ward, W. H., et al , 1965, Pr oper t i es of London
cl ay at Ashford Common shaft , GCotechnique,
Vol. 15, p. 321-344.