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CYCLIC SIMPLE SHEAR TESTING OF NEVADA

SAND FOR PEER CENTER PROJECT 2051999


by
Ann Marie Kammerer, Jiaer Wu, Juan M. Pestana, Michael Riemer and Raymond B. Seed

Geotechnical Engineering Report No UCB/GT/00-01


January 2000
Progress Report

GEOTECHNICAL ENGINEERING.
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
University of California, Berkeley

Cyclic Simple Shear Testing of Nevada Sand


for PEER Center Project 2051999
INTRODUCTION
The simple shear testing series described in this report was conducted as part of the
Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center's "G2" program. It consists of testing
performed on Nevada sand with a variety of densities, vertical stresses, cyclic stress
ratios, and K ratios using the UC Berkeley bi-directional simple shear device. The goal
of the PEER G2 program is the development of constitutive models useful for predicting
displacements of liquefiable soils under seismic loading. It is a collaborative effort
involving centrifuge modeling (UC Davis), small strain testing (UC Los Angeles), large
strain testing (UC Berkeley), and constitutive modeling (UC Berkeley, UC Davis and UC
San Diego). In particular, the moderate displacements (<1m) of medium to dense sands
are targeted.
The simple shear testing program undertaken was designed to address needs and issues
that arose during constitutive model development and group discussions. It was
developed collaboratively by UC Berkeley, where the tests were performed, UC Davis
and UC San Diego. The tests performed serve several purposes including (1)
determination of the strength and behavioral properties of Nevada sand, (2) investigation
of soil behavior under a variety of previous stress histories, and (3) determination of
post-liquefaction strength properties.
MATERIAL PROPERTIES
Nevada sand is a very fine, angular sand chosen for its applicability to centrifuge testing.
Index testing was performed to determine properties of the particular batch of sand used
for cyclic simple shear testing. A minimum void ratio of 0.533 was determined by the
modified Japanese method, as developed at UC Berkeley. A maximum void ratio of
0.888 was determined by the dry tipping method. A comparison with published data for
Nevada sand is shown below.

UC Berkeley
VELACS Report1
Used for Analysis

Gs

emin

emax

2.67
2.67

0.533
0.511
0.533

0.8875
0.887
0.888

d,min

d,max

(kN/m3)

(kN/m3)

13.87
13.87
13.87

17.09
17.33
17.09

Arulmoli, K. (1994) " VELACS: Selection, distribution and laboratory testing of soils," Proceedings of
the International Conference on the Verification of Numerical Procedures for the Analysis of Soil
Liquefaction Problems, Volume 2, Page 1285-1286, edited by Kandiah Arulanandan & Ronald F. Scott,
1994.

SAMPLE PREPARATION
Two methods of sample preparation were developed for this testing series. Both sample
preparation procedures use dry pluviation to mimic the preparation of centrifuge models
as practiced by UC Davis. Both also assure full saturation of the sample by requiring "Bvalues" (as are traditionally obtained as part of triaxial testing) of at least 0.93 to be
obtained. The first, more traditional, technique was used on samples NS1 to NS5. The
second technique, which required modifications to the testing device, was used on all
samples built after NS5. The development of a second sample preparation procedure was
the result of the angular nature of Nevada sand and its ability to maintain a very steep
slope under minimal vertical loads. It was found that more traditional techniques could
not be employed without adversely affecting the geometry and density of the sample.
In both techniques, the sample is first dry pluviated, densified further if necessary, and
placed under a small vacuum (~3 kPa) to limit density change during sample handling.
The height of the sample is determined and it is immediately seated in the device. The
LVDTs are immediately installed and initial values noted. The initial vertical LVDT
readings are indexed to the sample height measured. The sample height is monitored
throughout the subsequent sample preparation and testing procedures through the LVDT
readings.
It is in the next steps that the two sample preparation procedures differ. In most
preparation techniques horizontal effective shear stresses imposed on the sample are
limited only by the need to avoid overconsolidation of the sample. Overconsolidation is
traditionally limited by first determining a conservative (low) estimate of the horizontal
effective stress that is likely imposed on the sample during testing and then limiting the
horizontal stresses imposed during sample preparation to values less than the value
determined. The first sample preparation process used for this series followed this
traditional approach.
After the sample was placed in the device, de-aired water was allowed to flow into the
sample through the bottom cap. Once the sample was fully flooded and the water
flowing out of the sample showed little dissolved air, the drain lines to the two caps were
connected via a t-connection to a single line leaving the device. The chamber was then
added and a vacuum was imposed on both the chamber and the sample. Any air that was
captured in the fittings was extracted by increasing the vacuum in the sample until the air
was removed. When using the UC Berkeley Bi-directional device, the horizontal
effective stress is the difference between the chamber and backpressures when the net
force is inward and differs from the vertical effective stress only slightly due to a small
seating load applied prior to saturation. Ideally, the vacuum in the chamber should be
increased to match the vacuum imposed in the sample thereby imposing zero effective
stress. However the large volume and leakage of the chamber limited the actual chamber
vacuum that could be maintained.

Although the effective stress imposed on the sample was limited and acceptable under
traditional techniques, it was found that all but the smallest inward effective stress caused
the sample to get taller and to move inward, away from the membrane, thereby reducing
the ability to both effectively determine density and to maintain a loose to medium
density. It was determined that the minimum density attainable by use of this technique
was 65%-the density of samples NS1 through NS5.
To address the issues discussed above, the simple shear device was retrofitted to allow
for each of the end caps to be attached via drain lines to separate water supplies outside
the simple shear device. In the second technique, both the sample and chamber are
exposed to the same vacuum while de-aired water flows through the sample under gravity
loading. This is accomplished by using a 4-way connect between the chamber, the two
water supplies (attached to each of the end caps) and the house vacuum supply. Again,
de-aired water is allowed to flow through the sample until the exiting water contains little
dissolved air, though with the important difference that it is now under vacuum.
There are several advantages to this setup. First, because the bubbles that are trapped in
the sample are principally a function of void space geometry, flooding the system under a
vacuum limits the number of air molecules in each bubble, making subsequent back
pressure saturation more effective. Secondly, because the sample and chamber are
always under the same vacuum, zero effective stress is applied to the sample. This is true
even when fluctuations occur in the house vacuum supplya common occurrence that
previously destroyed a number of samples under preparation. Lastly, the subsequent
connection of the two drain lines to the single line that enter the volume and effective
stress measuring device can be designed to better limit the introduction of air bubbles.
The disadvantage to this retrofit was the increase in tubing length used. However, the
potential decrease in attainable B-values was not realized during testing.
The first two samples prepared with the new technique (NS6 and NS7) had a relative
density of 30% at the time of testing. Unfortunately, inappropriate gains employed
during testing caused the system to lose control during testing of both samples.
Additional testing at 30% relative density will be performed at part of the year 3 program.
In both sets of sample preparation procedures the next step is to back pressure saturate
the samples until a minimum "B-values" of 0.93 is attained. The sample is then
consolidated to the appropriate vertical and shear stresses by simultaneously increasing
both values in order to limit stress rotation. Testing is then performed as described in the
next section.
Wire reinforced membranes were used during all testing to maintain essentially constant
cross sectional area and, hence, Ko conditions during testing. The membranes were
constructed by the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute (NGI) and had a stiffness coefficient
of C=1 as defined by NGI. Because the area cannot be measured directly prior to or
during testing, the area enclosed by the membranes under the imposed lateral stress must
be assumed. The cross sectional area of the membranes was measured under varying
vertical stresses prior to the testing series and was also measured after selected testing by

slowly removing the cell and back pressures, while maintaining the vertical load. The
cross sectional area remained constant within the minimum demarcation of the -tape
used to measure the diameter for all cases and was, thus, assumed constant for all tests.
As noted, the Nevada sand used for this program tends to lock in position under very
small vertical loads. This behavior may allow for a situation where the wire
reinforcement is not fully employed prior to testing. If this is the case, using a constant
area assumption would cause the calculated relative density to be too small. Because of
this potential error, density was determined using the post-test height when the wires are
known to be fully employed. This technique is allowable only for fully saturated
undrained samples (i.e. when no volume change can occur). Relative densities calculated
after testing tend to increase approximately 1% from pre-test values for samples prepared
using the second sample preparation technique.
TEST TYPES/PURPOSES
Four test types were undertaken for this testing program. They include two types of
cyclic testing, "fabric" testing as designed by researchers at UC Davis, and monotonic
testing. Of these, the first two are primary tests and the second two are supplementary
tests that are performed on samples that have undergone liquefaction. The descriptions
and purposes of each test type are discussed below. In addition, several of the tests were
performed as part of "K" series, which are also discussed below.
CYCLIC TESTS AND EXTENDED CYCLIC TESTS
Many of the tests were performed until a minimum "failure" criteria of 6% double
amplitude strain (within a cycle) was reached. Extended cyclic tests were performed on
dense samples where 6% double amplitude strain could either not be reached or would
not assure maximum pore pressure generation. Typical extended tests lasted from 30 to
100 cycles and were terminated when the sample was exhibiting constant behavior cycle
to cycle. These tests show the both progression of strength and the accumulation of
strains during cyclic shear.
FABRIC TESTS
Fabric tests were designed to examine the behavior of liquefiable soils under identical
stress conditions, but after different loading histories. In fabric testing, a series of three
tests are imposed on a single sample. Steps of the testing procedure are outlined and
shown in the figures below.
INITIAL TEST
1. The sample is cyclically tested as discussed above. Testing is terminated when a
double amplitude strain of at least 6% is achieved, as shown in the figure below.
2. Stress conditions that existed three cycles prior to termination (point A) are
determined.

Step 1

Step 2

SUBSEQUENT TEST
3. The sample is brought back to the same conditions as existed at point A by allowing
the pore pressure to dissipate slightly.
4. Cyclic stress conditions identical to the last three cycles of the initial test are again
imposed.

Step 3

Steps 4 and 7

RECONSOLIDATED TEST
5. The drain is opened and the sample is allowed to reconsolidate under the initial
conditions. The density of the sample is slightly, permanently increased at this point.
6. Back pressure is imposed until the conditions that existed at point A are again
attained.
7. Cyclic stress conditions identical to the last three cycles of the initial test are again
imposed. (Same as step 4 above)

Step 5

Step 6

During each of these tests, the sample is experiencing the same initial and loading
conditions as that experienced during the last three cycles of the initial testing. However,
the sample has a different stress history at the beginning of each test.
MONOTONIC (RESIDUAL STRENGTH) TESTS
Like the fabric tests, monotonic testing is performed after an initial cyclic test has been
completed. It consists of loading in the opposite direction of the last stress in the cyclic
test and is conducted without allowing any of the pore pressure to dissipate. A bulk of
the monotonic testing was performed under manual load control of the device as the very
small shear strength of the liquefied soil caused the computerized control system to
frequently fail immediately upon being engaged. Monotonic testing was terminated
when either the shear LVDT or the loading system reached its limit. After testing was
completed on the dense samples tested for this program, the shear LVDT was recalibrated
to more than double its available range (thereby reducing its resolution) in an effort to
effectively capture residual strength information. This recalibration increased available
strain limits to approximately 25% for an average sized sample.
K SERIES
Three sets of three tests each were included in the testing plan to examine the effects of
increasing K on the behavior of liquefiable soils. These series are composed of tests
with the same CSR (cyclic stress ratio), but with increasing K values. This is equivalent
to the same earthquake hitting three slopes sitting at increasing angles. CSR is defined in
this report as the cyclic shear stress normalized by the initial effective vertical stress. K
is defined as the shear stress around which an imposed cyclic shear load centers
normalized by the initial effective vertical stress. Or using common notation one can say,
CSR =

ave
' v ,initial

where

ave =

max + min
2

and

K =

intial
' v ,initial

TESTING CONDITIONS
All cyclic tests were performed on undrained, fully saturated samples at a frequency of
0.1 Hz under 1-directional horizontal load control. A constant vertical load condition
was used during testing. As noted above, sample area was maintained by the use of
reinforced membranes.
The constant load vertical boundary condition is unusual in liquefaction testing due to the
inability of all but a few devices to maintain a chamber pressure and so deserves some
discussion here. A majority of liquefaction testing is performed on dry samples as the
ability to apply a chamber pressure-lacking in most device- is required for back pressure
saturation. In the field, it is the case that both constant vertical load and height are
maintained over the course of a seismic event. Dry liquefaction testing makes use of this
in-situ behavior by maintaining a constant vertical height and equating the drop off in
vertical load to the pore pressure that would occur.
Clearly there is a difference between the stress conditions that exist during testing on a
dry sample and the fully saturated in-situ conditions it is intended to replicate. When the
vertical load drops off in a dry sample, the horizontal load drops as well, but the drop is
some lesser value than occurs in the vertical directions. The ratio of the two stress
changes is dependent on the "KO,OCR" properties of the soil. This is in contrast to an
increase in pore pressure which produces an equal drop in effective stress in both the
vertical and horizontal directions. If two samples, one dry and one saturated, produce the
same calculated pore pressure, the dry sample will actually be confined by a larger lateral
effective stress. As the simple shear device used for this project is capable of maintaining
both constant vertical load and
SCHEMATIC TABLE OF TESTS PERFORMED
constant vertical height conditions
equally well, a constant vertical
Init. Vert.
Sample
Test
Eff. Stress CSR K
Dr
load condition was chosen to avoid
1
#
Types
(Atm)
this approximation error, as well
as to limit the potential for cap
NS2
C
0
0.25 0.15
NS3
C
65
slippage that can occur with
0.4
NS4
C, F
0.1
constant vertical height tests.
A schematic table of the
(approximate) conditions imposed
on the samples tested is provided
for ease of use (right). Precise
values testing conditions attained
are given in the next section. In
addition to the tests requested,
several additional tests on samples
of intermediate densities were
performed. Both sets of data are
shown together for completeness.

NS5
C
85
NS8
EC, M
NS9
C
NS10
C
90
NS11
EC
NS12
EC, F, M
NS13
C, M
NS17
C
NS14
C, F, M
NS16
EC
50
NS16B
C, M
NS15
C, F
NS18
C
NS19
EC
C=cyclic EC=extended cyclic

0.5
1

0
0.2

0.25
0.1
0.5
0.17
0.4

0.1

0.05
0
0.08

0
0.15
0.2
M=monotonic
0.25

F=fabric

RESULTS/DATA
A summary of the precise test parameter values obtained for each of the tests are shown
in the table below. Figures showing the stress path and stress-strain characteristics for
each test are also shown in the appendix. Digital data files are available both online, at
http:/www.ce.berkeley.edu/~kammerer/data and in UC Berkeley Geotechnical Report
UCB/GT/00-02 (CD). Additional testing to further address issues that came to light as a
result of the data presented in this report and to address the needs of the G-2 program will
be performed as part of the year three program.
PRECISE TESTING INFORMATION
Sample
#

Test
Types1

Dr

Init. Vertical
Eff. Stress
(Atm)

NS2
NS3
NS4
NS5

C
C
C, F
C

68
62
68
86

NS8
NS9
NS10
NS11
NS12

EC, M
C
C
EC
EC, F, M

NS13

CSR

Comments

38
39
40
39

0.24
0.24

0.01
0.14
0.1
0.02

O-ring lost after 3rd cycle

89
90
90
90
93

96
102
95
44
36

0.26
0.24
0.26
0.22
0.53

0
0.21
0.11
0.08
0.09

C, M

47

38

0.17

0.05

NS14
NS15
NS16

C, F, M
C, F
EC

51
53
48

40
33
44

0.09

0.01
0
0.1

NS16b
NS17
NS18
NS19

C, M
C
C
EC

48
50
51
51

43
30
40
41

0.24

0.24
0.48

0.29
0.1
0.22
0.25
0.24

0.08
0.05
0.16
0.19

Test stopped to prevent loss of


control
Lost control during subsequent
fabric test
(Subsequent monotonic test
surpassed apparatus load capacity)

(Subsequent monotonic test


surpassed apparatus load capacity)
(Subsequent monotonic test
surpassed apparatus load capacity)
(subsequent monotonic test
surpassed apparatus LVDT capacity)
First test showed no response so
second with greater CSR was run
(Subsequent monotonic test
surpassed apparatus load capacity)
System lost control during montonic
System crashed when writing data
file-only small amount recoverable