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Schan2, T. & Venneer. P. A. (1996). Giotechtliqul! 46, No.

I, 145-151

TECHNICAL NOTE

Angles of friction and dilatancy of sand


T. SCHANZ' and P. A. VERMEER'

LABORATORY TESTING

KEYWORDS: laboratory tests; plasticit)'; nnds; shear


strength.

Triaxial compression tests were performed on a


quartz sand (Flavigny, Desrues & Palayer, 1990).
This socalled Hostun sand has been used for
many years (Des rues, 1984; Desrues, ColliatDangus & foray, 1988) in model tests and for
research on constitutive modelling. The material
parameters were emin = 0648; emu = 104 I; Ps =
265 g!cm]. Fig. 1 shows the grain size distribution.
All samples were compacted by pluviation in a
steel cylinder lined with a rubber membrane
(to = 03 mm). Under a back-pressure of Uo =
50 kN/m 2 , the samples (Ho = Do = 100 mm) were
placed in the triaxial cell, back-pressure was
removed, and the samples were consolidated under
ac To speed up saturation, the samples were
saturated first with C02 and then with water. The
volume change was measured by pore-water
volume change, and the specimens were axially
strained at I% per minute.
Because the hcight-<iiameter ratio Hal Do of all
the samples was unity, special means were
necessary for compensation of end restraint. The
following anti-friction system was used. Both end
plates (enlarged diameter 110 mm) were made
from polished glass with a centre hole for
drainage. A silicon grease-rubber interface was
placed between the plates and the sample. Previous
tests have shown the shear parameters measured
with this system to be equal to those measured

INTRODUCTION

The strength of sand is usually characterized by the


peak friction angle p and the critical state friction
angle Cy. It is generally realized that the peak
friction angel depends not only on density but also
on the stress path, including differences between
plane strain and triaxial testing conditions. Indeed,
plane strain and triaxial strain angles can differ by
more than 5 for a dense sand. For a loose sand at
the critical density it is often suggesled that similar
differences occur (e.g. Stroud, 1971; Lade, 1984).

However, some authors have presented data that


suggest a unique critical state angle (e.g. Rowe,
1962, 1971; Bolton, 1986).

This technical note presents data on a unique


critical state angle. The implication is that the
failure criterion of a very loose sand is accurately
described by the Mohr--coulomb condition, which
gives the known six-sided pyramid in principal
stress space.
The test data on dense as well as loose Hostun
sand are also used to study the rale of dilation.
This topic was extensively treated by Bolton
(1986), and it is now generally accepted that the
triaxial rate of dilation coincides with the rate of
dilation found in plane strain tests. Following
Roscoe (t970), Bohon used an angle of dilatancy
l/Jp for plane strain, but its definition is not
extended to cover triaxial strain. However, an
attempt at this was made by Vaid & Sasitharan
(1991). A different definition is presented in this
technical note which was previously given by
Vermeer & de Borst (1984) but is derived
differently here. Empirical evidence shows that
the definition matches dala from both plane strain
and tria"<.ial srrain.

100

>'

~
~

80
80

"
D

40

Q.

Manuscript received II January 1995; revised manuscript


accepted 4 May 1995.
Discussion on this technical note closes 3 June 1996; for
further details see p. ii.
* Stuttgart Universi[)'.

20

0~063

0125

025

05

Diameter: mm

Fig. 1. Grain-size distribution of Hostun sand

145

146

SCHANZ AND VERMEER

,--------------,-12

conventionally with only filter plates. The present


system ensures a nC3r-unifonn dcfonnation of the

sample up to peak stress ratio.


The bedding error 6.r c caused by the lubrication, which can lead to a 60% reduction in the

5
-8

initial moduli of axial stiffness. was numerically

eliminated using

6t'fto = 03[1 - exp( - 00037oill


(Goldscheider, 1982) where

10

(I)

is the thickness of

the membrnne and 0\ is the axial stress. Also, the


effect of the lateral membrane restraint was

estimated by assuming it to be a right cylinder.


With the stiffness of the membrane Em (= 1400 kNl
m2 ), the correction stress I!:J.03 c can be calculated
according to
(2)
where 03 is the radial stress and E] is the radial
strain. In contrast to the bedding error, this
membrane stiffness correction had little impact on
the test results.

1 O~#'''--5t----:';!;Oc-----''1~5...L..'-~2;!;O,JO
I

(1:%

Fig. 2. Stress-strain bchllviour of dense Hostun sand

=:

5,----------_--,
-8

FRICTION ANGLES

Standard drained triaxial tests were carried out


on dense Hostun s:md, with Yo = 16-3 leN/m) and
10 = 1-15, and on loose Hostun sand with
Yo ~ 139 kN/m J

and

I D = O 38.

To check

the

reproducibility of test results, four control tests


were performed at a fixed cell pressure of
OJ ~ 300 kN/m'.
Figures 2 and 3 shows test results; stress-strain
curves are ploned with the stress ratio on the left
vertical axis and strain-strain curves are superposed by ploning the volumetric strain on the right
vertical a,,<is. The test data show that the
reproducibility of triaxial tests is quite good.
A second step in checking the reproducibility
and thus the reliability of test data is to compare
data from different laboratories. A direct comparison can be made between the present data (IGS)
and dara from the Grenoble Institute of Mechanics
(lMG) (Flavigny, Hadj-Sadok, Horodecki & Balachowski, 1991), as both laboratories have used the
same sand and the same testing procedure,
including the lubrication of end plates. The
comparison was made by using test data for the
dense sand and plotting average values for a series
of control tests, as shown in Fig. 4.
Even with comparable testing procedures, different laboratories appear to produce slightly
different curves. Some differences with classical
test data (aspect ratio of two and no lubrication)
are expected, but the deviations between IGS
results and IMG results are surprising; as yet there
is no clear explanation. However, in terms of
friction angles the differences between IGS and
IMG are smaller than Fig. 4 suggests, as peak

Fig. 3. Siress-strain behaviour of loose Hostun sand

,---------------,-12
5
-8

~3
o
IGS
o IGM
.6.

Non-Iubricaled

ll".~:'--'-----':---"";----:':-'O
o
5
10
15
20
[1:%

Fig. 4. Mean stress-strain bch:n'iour found in three


laboratories

friction angles of about 42 and 40 degrees


respectively are found (the precise values are given
in Table I.

Figure 4 shows that all volumetric strains


compare well up to an axial strain of about 10%,
which is well beyond peak strength. Differences
occur beyond an axial strain of 10%, when a
critical state is approached in which the sample

147

FRICTION ANGLES AND DILATANCY OF SAND

Table 1. Shear strength and dilatancy or Hostun sand


under triaxial compression

dcg~~es

I deg~~'es
"'.. I ","

-""-'
1

dewees

10

"'"

1-15

IGS

419

34-8

133

IMG

401

357

140

Non-lubric:ued

418

l7-7

126

10 = 038
34-4

IGS

34-4

VALIDATION OF THE STRESS-DILATAJ<CY THEORY


Several theories have been developed for predicting the volume strain in triaxial testing as a
function of the axial strain. In particular, the
applicabiliIy of Rowe's (1962, 1971) stress dilatancy theory has been shown by Barden & Khayan
(1966) and Wood (1990). This is also done here,
but in addition Rowe's idea of superposition is
emphasized as this is applied when considering
angles of dilatancy. The stress dilatancy theory
starts with the expression for plane states of strain

(3)

D=R/K
00

where D = -e3/e" is the stress ratio 01103 and K is


a coefficient representing the internal friction which
may be expressed as

K = lan' (45
deforms with further change of volume. At the end
of the test, at an axial strain of 17%, this critical
state is not yet fully reached but softening and
dilation are clearly damping out. At 17% vertical
strain the IGS and Th-1G data yield friction angles
of 34.80 and 35.7 0 respectively. It is possible that a
0
critical state angle of almost 34-4 would have
been reached on further straining. This angle is
obtained from the loose sand data in Fig. 3, and is
assumed here to be the critical state angle of
friction.
0
Having obtained a peak friction angle of 40-42
for the dense sand and a maximum friction angle
of 34-40 for the loose sand, it is interesting to
compare these triaxial angles to friction angles
measured in plane strain tests by Hammad (1991).
The laner data are listed in Table 2 for various
values of the confining stress.
Taking data for a cell pressure of 300 kN/m 2 as
was also done in tria"{ial testing, a peak friction
angle of 45-47 is found for the dense sand and a
maximum friction angle of 32,5-34,5 for the loose
sand. A significant difference is thus found for the
dense sand, as other studies, whereas there is very
linle difference for the loose sand at the critical
state. (This finding is confirmed below by data for
other sands.) Hence it seems that a unique critical
state angle cv exists independently of strain
conditions.

+ r/2)

(4)

For loose sands r is equal to the friction angle


cv at critical state, but values tend to be lower for
dense sands. Rowe derived these relationships by
considering the ratc of energy dissipation. On
changing from plane state of strain to triaxial
testing conditions, he computcd the ratc of energy
by adding the effects of two mechanisms. How~
ever, his resulting equation can also be obtained
without considering energy dissipation, as is now
shown. Similarly to Rowe, sliding on planes
governed by the stress ratio 0\102 (mechanism A)
and sliding on other planes governed by olloJ
(mechanism B) are considered.
Figure 5 shows the A mechanism with sliding
on a 0\--02 plane and the B mechanism with
sliding on a 01--<73 plane. Each sliding mechanism
constitutes a planar deformation, and it is thus
tempting [0 apply equation (3) to each separate
mechanism. This yields

-E,fEIA = DA = RA/K

(Sa)

= D. = R./K

(5b)

-E3/EI.

where RA = RB = Rand e2 "'" J for triaxial testing


conditions. The basic idea that follows from these
considerations is that there are two contributions to
the axial strain, i.e.
(6)

Table 2. Aooles of friction and dilatanc\' of Hostun sand in the biaxial test (Ji:lmmad , 1991)

2
3: kN/m

",,,.
P . degrces

"'~s:

degrees

<pps, degrees
P

10 095

IjIPs.
P degrees

/0 '" 0'37

100

467-475

14'5-147

35'5

00

200

464-470

141-142

32,5-345

00

400

4;1-453

114-121

330-333

-1,3

148

----------

SCHANZ AND VERMEER

6
/
/
/
/

Kev (ev = 34'4)

,,"

",,"

//<1"='9.)

3
2
/
/
/

Fig. 5. Deviation of triaxial dilatancy from biaxial


state

oL

~/

_ _L-_ _L-..!-_L-_-----1

0'5

=-2E:/t,

15

Fig. 7. Stress-dilatancy plot for loose Hostun sand

or in short

D=R/K

(7a)

D = -21: 3 /1:,

(7b)

Hence the difference between the plane strain


(equation (3)) and equation (7a) concerns a factor
of two in the definition of D, as noted by Rowe
(1962). In the present derivation, the idea of
superposition is shown in Fig. 5, i.e. two localized
sliding motions in shear bands. In reality much
more diffuse pre-peak deformation patterns occur,
but this does not change the idea of superposing an
A~type mechanism and a B-type mechanism, which
leads to the above results.
The value of the angle ,pr in the expression for
K has not yet been defined. Triaxial test data are
now considered for this purpose. The data for
dense and loose Hostun sand are planed in Figs 6
and 7 respectively. Using equation (7) in the form
R = KD, R is plotted on the vertical axis and D is
plotted on the horizontal axis.
Nearly straight lines that pass through the
origin, as suggested by the expression R = KD,
are found. In fact the plot zig-zags around such

lines, as the strain ratio D is computed from very


small increments of strain. \Vhen a ratio is
computed, small errors tend to have large consequences. Note that the zig-zagging would vanish
if D were computed from strain increments twice
as large. In Figs 6 and 7 lines are plotted for K/..
where f is taken to be the interparticle angle of
friction, and also for K ev , where the critical state
angle of friction is used. Accordingly to Rowe
(1971), the former should be used for dense sands
and the laner is more appropriate for loose sands.
However, the differences between the resulting
lines is small and an average value would be
adequate for most practical purposes.

ANGLE OF DILATANCY

The angle of dilatancy is first examined in plane


strain situations and its definition is then extended
to include triaxial compression. For plane strain
conditions, the definition is given in several
textbooks and by Bolton (1986)
.

sm

/
/

Kev (ev

=34'4)

"
/

" ,,"J(

""

')1

(Q =29)
II

/
/
/

/
/

// /

<-

o,L----,d-_
_+
o
0'5
1

__-.-'15,-__--!2

D= -'id~

Fig. 6. Stress-diIatancy plot for dense Hostun sand


(me:m values)

ps

1 +)
= --.--.EI - E)

(8)

The first minus sign should be omitted when


contractive strains are considered positive. When
considering the peak dilatancy angle rates rather
than mobilized pre-peak angles of dilatancy, one
should obviously use rates of strain as measured at
and beyond peak stress ratios. Analogously to the
extension of the stress-dilatancy theory, the concept
of a dilatancy angle can be extended to include
triaxial test conditions. Again the axial strain is
considered to consist of an A mechanism in
combination with Ez and a B mechanism that
relates to the other principal strain E]
(9)

149

FRJCTION ANGLES AND DILATANCY OF SAND

_ D _
I - sin rp
DA - B - .
I + SIn rp

(10)

This yields for t/J the expression

sin", =

tv/E.I

(II)

2 - iv/E.I

ROWE'S THEORY AND THE ANGLE OF DILATANCY

The relationship between the dilalancy angle


and the friction angle is also given by Bolton
(1986). On combining the strcss-dilalancy equations (3) and (4) with the definition of the
dilatancy angle in equation (11), it is found that
Sill

rp

Slllrp=

Hence, a definition has been derived for the


dilatancy angle that can be used to measure this
angle in triaxial compression testing. A more
formal deriyation based on concepts of the theory
of plasticity is given by Vermeer & de Borst (1984).
Applying equation (II) to the triaxial test data in
Figs 2 and 3, a (peak) dilatancy angle of 14 is
found for the dense Hostun sand and a vanishingly
small value of about zero is obtained for the loose
sand. These values correspond extremely well to
values measured in plane strain tests: Hammad
(1991) rep0rls virtually identical values to those
given in Table 2.
The plane strain definition (equation (3 for the
dilatancy angle is formally equal to the triaxial
definition (equation (11)). This is due to the
fact that E2 vanishes for plane strain, giving
Ell = El + E3, and so equation (3) reduces to equation (11). Hence the latter equation is valid for
both test conditions. This supports the finding that
Ihe same dilatancy angle is measured in plane
strain and triaxial tests. Bolton (1986) presents
numerous data to show Ihal bOlh tests yield the
same peak ratio of ElllE l .

Instead of combining the plane strain equations


(3) and (4) of the stress-<!ilalaDcy lheory wilh the
definition of the dilatancy angle in equation (II),
one might use Rowe's equation (equation (7 for
tria."{ial tests with equation (11) to obtain

tPr
tPr

sin tP ps - sin
=
I - sin tP ps sin

sin tP tr - sin tP7


I - sin u sin tP

(13)

This equation is the same as equation (12) except


for the superscripts, which mean that these angles
have to be measured in triaxial tests instead of
plane strain tests. In triaxial tests one' tends to find
smaller peak friction angles than in plane strain
tests, and Rowe reports a similar tendency for cPr.
Indeed, for dense Hostun sand it is found that
tPr = 29, which is significantly different from the
345 found earlier for ~s.
[t is concluded that Rowe's stress dilatancy
theory exhibits an appealing relationship bet\vcen
the friction angle and the dilatancy angle for
planar deformation, in that 4>~s = CII. However,
this theory needs to be supplemented for triaxial
conditions of stress and strain in order to obtain a
relationship bet\veen the friction angle and the
dilatancy angle. For this reason, relationships given
by Bolton (1986) are now considered.

BOLTON'S FINDINGS FOR PEAK ANGLES

Bolton (1986) assumes a unique critical state


angle tPcv for both triaxial strain and plane strain.
This is confirmed by test data for Hostun sand.
Bohon gives a large database which leads to the
correlations for plane strain
</>~'

</>~

'" 51.

(14)

tP; -

tP~v

::::: 3/R

( 15)

srrain~

where /R is a relative dilatancy

and

(12)

The superscripts ps have been added to denote


plane strain angles of friction, as this formula was
derived using the plane strain equations (3) and (4),
and plane strain angles of friction tend to be larger
than friction angles measured in triaxial teSIS. I a
superscript is used to denote the dilatancy angle, as
this angle is considered to be independent of testing
conditions. According to Rowe cP~s coincides with
the critical state angle cPCII. If the data in Table 2 are
used to compute cP~5 from equation (12), the dense
sand yields tP~s = 36 and the loose sand yields
tP~s = 345. As the difference is relatively small,
there exists .. more or less uniquely defined angle
f Ps which corresponds well with the critical state
angle.

for triaxial
index

10

= 10{Q -InUrn) -

(16)

which relates density and the applied stress level. It


was found that Q = 10 and R = 1 give the best fit
for different sands. Combining equations (14) and
(15) gives

</>; '" 3</>:' + 2</>,")

(17)

Equation (17) is not mentioned directly by Bolton,


but is a direct consequence of his findings. Fig. 8
provides data from additional sources.
There is a good deal of evidence for the validity
of equation (17). It therefore appears that differences bet\veen friction angles disappear as looser

150

SCHANZ AND VERMEER


50

Cornforth (1964)

A leussink e/af. (1966)

<> Hostun sand (dense)

,,

o Hoslun sand (loose)

"

o
,,

,,

Equation (17)

..

30 "---_ _.,..
~

,,

-,':-

40
tis p: degrees

___:'

states are considered. This has implications for the


form of the limiting envelope for slates of stress in
principal stress space. For dense sJrnples the plane
strain friction is well above the Mohr-Coulomb
prediction, but looser samples give envelopes
according to Mohr-Coulomb. There arc a lot of
true triaxial data to confirm the former, but few
true triaxial tests have been performed on loose
sand. Therefore it is often suggested that friction
angles are strain-dependent for both loose and
dense sands. Considering results from Bolton and
the additional data of Fig. 8, the present authors do
not agree.
Another finding by Bolton is that the rate of
dilation is srrain-independent. It is found for both
triaxial strain and biaxial strain that

(18)
This suppons the idea of a unique angle of
dilatancy, as this angle was related to the above
rate of dilation. Combining equations (II) and (18)
gives

03[.
2 + 03[.

[.

67

+ [.

(17.

Fig. 8. Maximum strength under pl:me strain and


triaxial strain

smllJ=

tions. The extended theory is validated by the fael


that data from plane strain and triaxial strain
conditions yield the same angle of dilatancy at
least near and beyond peak.
In contrast to the angle of dilatancy, friction
angles differ considerably when tria...ial strain and
plane strains are compared. This difference basically depends on the critical state friction angle, as
by Bolton (1986) and other researchers. As yet it
is not fully clear whelher or not plane strain
conditions yield slightly higher critical state angles
than triaxial strain conditions. Considering data
from Hostun sand, no such difference is observed.
There is linear relationship between angles of
ma.'(lmum friction for both conditions (equation

(19)

CONCLUSIONS
From the results prcsented, the following conclusions can be drawn concerning the angles of
friction and dilatancy of sand.
By using concepts of superposition it is possible
to relate the angle of dilatancy to triaxial strain
conditions. This yields an extended definition for
the angle of dilatancy which applies to triaxial
testing conditions as well as plane strain condi-

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
The authors are indebted to Dr 1. Desrues and
Dr E. Flavigny of the Instirut de Mecanique de
Grenoble for discussion on the triaxial testing
tcchnique, and for their biaxial testing data on
Hosrun sand.
NOTATION
D diameter
e void ratio
Em membrane thickness
H height
10 dilatancy index
I R rel:ltive dil:ltancy index
K internal friction coefficient
R stress ratio (ol/oJ)
to membrane thickness
!::J.r bedding error
EJ
radial strain
p density
00
b:lck-pressure
a, axial stress
OJ
radial stress
1'". critical state friction angle
1'p peak friction angle
V'p angle of dilatancy

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