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Shear Strength of Soils

Introduction & Triaxial Test Procedure

Shear failure
Soils generally fail in shear

embankment
strip footing

failure surface mobilised shear


resistance

At failure, shear stress along the failure surface


reaches the shear strength.

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What is Shear Strength of a
Soil?
 Shear Strength: - the internal
resistance per unit area that the soil
mass can offer to resist failure and
sliding along any plane inside it

Shear failure

failure surface
The soil grains slide over
each other along the
failure surface.

No crushing of
individual grains.

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Shear failure

At failure, shear stress along the failure surface


() reaches the shear strength (f).

Mohr Coulomb Failure


Criterion
 Material fails because of a critical combination of
normal stress and shear stress
 The functional relationship between normal stress ()
and shear stress () on a failure plane can be
expressed as

f = f ( )
 The failure envelop developed by the above eqn is a
curved line but can be approximated as a linear
function

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Failure envelop as a linear
function (based on total stress)
 As a linear function, the failure envelop is
expressed as (Mohr Coulomb failure
criterion)

f = c + tan

where c = cohesion of the soil


= angle of internal friction
= normal stress on the failure plane
f = shear strength

Failure envelop as a linear function


(based on effective stress)

 The Mohr Coulomb failure criterion based


on effective stress takes the form

f = c + tan

c = cohesion and = friction angle


based on effective stress

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Mohr-Coulomb Failure
Criterion

f = c + tan
lop
e
nve
i l u re e
f a
friction angle
cohesion
f
c


f is the maximum shear stress the soil can take without
failure, under normal stress of .

Mohr-Coulomb Failure
Criterion
Shear strength consists of two
components: cohesive and frictional.

f
f = c + f tan
f tan
ompo
nen
t frictional
component
c
sive
c c c ohe

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c and are measures of shear strength.

Higher the values, higher the shear strength.

Mohr Circles & Failure Envelope

Y
X X
Y Soil elements at

different locations
X ~ failure

Y ~ stable

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Mohr Circles & Failure Envelope
The soil element does not fail if
the Mohr circle is contained
within the envelope

GL


c
Y c
c c+

Initially, Mohr circle is a point

Mohr Circles & Failure Envelope


As loading progresses, Mohr
circle becomes larger

GL


c
Y c
c

.. and finally failure occurs


when Mohr circle touches the
envelope

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Orientation of Failure Plane
Failure plane
Y oriented at 45 + /2
to horizontal
45 + /2
GL
45 + /2

c
Y c 90+

c c+

Mohr circles in terms of &


v v u

h h u
X
= X
+ X

effective stresses
total stresses

h v h v
u

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Envelopes in terms of &
Identical specimens
initially subjected to
different isotropic stresses
f
(c) and then loaded
c c
axially to failure

c c
uf
Initially Failure

c,
At failure,
in terms of
3 = c; 1 = c+
f
c,
3 = 3 u f ; 1 = 1 - u f
in terms of

Laboratory Tests for Determination of


Shear Strength Parameters
 Various methods to determine c, , c', '
1. Direct shear test (Shear box test) the normal
and shear stresses on the failure surface are
measured directly
2. Triaxial test most widely used, suitable for most
soils
3. Direct simple shear test
4. Plane strain triaxial test
5. Torsional ring shear test
 1 & 2 are the two commonly used techniques

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Triaxial Tests Apparatus
piston (to apply deviatoric stress)

failure plane
O-ring

impervious
membrane
soil sample at
failure
porous
stone
perspex cell

water

cell pressure
pore pressure or
back pressure
pedestal volume change

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Triaxial Test Procedure


Test is carried out on a cylindrical specimen of soil having a
height / diameter ratio of 2:1
Usual sizes: 76 x 38 (36) mm and 100 x 50 mm
The specimen is encased by a thin rubber membrane (to prevent
loss of moisture)
Specimen is then placed inside a plastic cylindrical chamber that
is usually filled with water / glycerin
Specimen is subjected to a confining pressure by compression
of fluid in the chamber (lateral pressure or cell pressure). This
lateral pressure will be the minor principal stress (3)

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Specimen under chamber confining pressure (cell pressure)

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Triaxial Test Procedure


Axial stress is applied through a vertical loading ram to cause
shear failure in the specimen (deviator stress)
Deviator stress is applied through
o Application of dead weights or hydraulic pressure in equal
increments until failure
o By geared or hydraulic loading press (strain controlled
test)
The axial load applied by the loading ram corresponding to a
given axial deformation is measured by a proving ring or load
cell attached to the ram

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Specimen under deviator stress application

d
3

3
3

d

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Important Readings (Triaxial Test)

 During the test, the readings are taken of:


Constant cell pressure (for each
sample)
Change in length of the specimen
The axial load
Pore pressure (if required)

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Different Types of Triaxial Tests
piston (to apply deviatoric stress)

O-ring

impervious
membrane

porous
stone
perspex cell

water

cell pressure
pore pressure or
back pressure
pedestal volume change

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Types of Triaxial Tests


)

deviatoric stress (

Under all-around Shearing (loading)


cell pressure c

Is the drainage valve open? Is the drainage valve open?

yes no yes no

Consolidated Unconsolidated Drained Undrained


sample sample loading loading

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Types of Triaxial Tests
Depending on whether drainage is allowed
or not during
 initial isotropic cell pressure application, and
 shearing,
there are three special types of triaxial tests
that have practical significances. They are:

Consolidated Drained (CD) test


Consolidated Undrained (CU) test
Unconsolidated Undrained (UU) test

For unconsolidated
undrained test, in
terms of total
stresses, u = 0

Granular soils have For normally consolidated


no cohesion. clays, c = 0 & c = 0.
c = 0 & c= 0

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CD, CU and UU Triaxial Tests
Consolidated Drained (CD) Test
 no excess pore pressure throughout the test
 very slow shearing to avoid build-up of pore
pressure
Can be days!
not desirable

 gives c and

Use c and for analysing fully drained


situations (e.g., long term stability,
very slow loading)

CD, CU and UU Triaxial Tests


Consolidated Undrained (CU) Test
 pore pressure develops during shear
Measure 

 gives c and

 faster than CD (preferred way to find c and )

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CD, CU and UU Triaxial Tests
Unconsolidated Undrained (UU) Test
 pore pressure develops during shear
Not measured = 0; i.e., failure envelope
unknown is horizontal
 analyse in terms of  gives cu and u
 very quick test

Use cu and u for analysing undrained


situations (e.g., short term stability,
quick loading)

1- 3 Relation at Failure
1
X 3

soil element at failure

3 1

1 = 3 tan 2 ( 45 + / 2) + 2c tan( 45 + / 2)
3 = 1 tan 2 ( 45 / 2) 2c tan( 45 / 2)

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v
Stress Point
h X

t stress point
stress point

(v-h)/2

h v s
(v+h)/2
v h
t=
2
v +h
s=
2

Stress Path
During loading
Stress path is
the locus of
t stress points

Stress path

Stress path is a convenient way to keep track of the


progress in loading with respect to failure envelope.

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Why Stress Path Tests?
 Allow engineer to replicate the changes
in stress conditions experienced during:
1. Excavations
2. Constructions
3. Natural events

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Failure Envelopes

t failure

tan-1 (sin )

c c cos stress path

During loading (shearing).

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Pore Pressure Parameters

A simple way to estimate the pore


pressure change in undrained
loading, in terms of total stress
changes ~ after Skempton (1954)
1
u = B[ 3 + A( 1 3 )]
Y 3

u = ? Skemptons pore pressure


parameters A and B

Pore Pressure Parameters


B-parameter

B = f (saturation,..)
For saturated soils, B 1.

A-parameter at failure (Af)


Af = f(OCR)

For normally consolidated clays Af 1.

For heavily overconsolidated clays Af is negative.

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Engineering & the Built Environment: Civil Engineering

Engineering & the Built Environment: Civil Engineering

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Engineering & the Built Environment: Civil Engineering

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