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Reply to the discussion by Robertson on

‘‘Liquefaction potential of silts from CPTu’’1
Dawn A. Shuttle and John Cunning

Our paper presented CPTu data from a silt tailings deposit sented in the paper. Second, the availability of models allows
that is believed to contain some of the loosest silt tested in cone penetration test (CPT) field data to be viewed within a
the experience of Golder Associates Ltd., so it is admittedly properly established mechanics framework. Of course, the
an unusual case. The discusser raised several points about problem at the moment, as we noted in the paper, is that
the nature of this tailing deposit and its inferred behaviour these models are not computable for the full flow solution
before considering the wider implications of this case history of soil around a CPT. Rather, we are limited to the cavity
in the context of liquefaction screening. The authors thank expansion analogue. The paper presented the calibration of
the discusser for his interest in this work, and in this reply this analogue for a rather loose, and quite uniform, silt.
we will respond to the points raised by the discusser and ex- The discussion considered how the sign of the state pa-
pand on the implications of this case history for liquefaction rameter is used to distinguish between post-liquefaction
screening. strain softening ( > 0) and strain hardening ( < 0). The
We presented a mechanics-based approach for liquefac- critical state is certainly widely used for this purpose, but it
tion screening. This differs from the discusser’s presentation does not seem to be a sufficient criterion. Rather, localiza-
of a geological classification for liquefaction into behaviou- tion effects must be accounted for. Referring to Fig. 7a of
ral types (his zones A1, A2, B, and C). Use of a geological the paper, a slight plateau in the stress–strain response is evi-
classification is unnecessary because liquefaction, in all its dent (in both NorSand and the test data) despite the sample
various forms, has been a computable behaviour using vari- having a dilatant state. Dilation does occur at larger strains
ous constitutive models for some 15 years, as a brief perusal with the enforced undrained conditions of the small-scale
of the VELACS conference (Arulanandan and Scott 1993) laboratory sample, but this leads to an obvious question of
indicates. Mechanics also offers direct insights into the whether such undrained conditions arise at field scale. For
changes in behaviour to be expected as the soil properties example, the Lower San Fernando Dam slide developed sev-
change, directly leading to a true understanding of the influ- eral minutes after the end of the earthquake; clearly pore-
ence of soil type (e.g., the effect of fines content on lique- water redistribution contributed to the failure, and the failure
faction susceptibility). was not fully undrained. Figure 1 shows three NorSand sim-
The paper presented a view of tailings behaviour based on ulations of undrained stress–strain behaviour using typical
the NorSand model. However, this is by no means the only clean quartz sand properties and varying to illustrate its in-
model of this nature, with several variations of the approach fluence. The figure shows that something like < –0.05 is
having been developed over the past decade (e.g., Manzari necessary to avoid a plateau in the stress–strain behaviour
and Dafalias 1997; Wan and Guo 1998; Li et al. 1999; Gajo and ensure that a flow slide could not develop through pore-
and Wood 1999; Imam et al. 2005). There are two important water migration into a localizing shear band or zone. We
points to be made. First, all of these models are capturing the note that this is an approximate criterion because it depends
same soil behaviour, and so to some extent it is a matter of on plastic hardening (which incorporates the effect of soil
taste as to which model is used. All are based, explicitly or fabric). We use < –0.05 as the criterion later in this reply.
implicitly, on the state parameter . All calibrate quite well The discussion inferred that a more or less correct assess-
to soil behaviour in triaxial conditions. We expect any of ment of the Rose Creek tailings would have been reached if
these models to give results very similar to those we pre- a different interpretation of the Robertson and Wride (1998)
criteria had been adopted. In particular, it is inferred that
Received 20 November 2007. Accepted 10 December 2007. Fig. 16 of Robertson and Wride (the soil behavioural type
Published on the NRC Research Press Web site at cgj.nrc.ca on chart) has been misquoted. Zone C of this chart is referred
22 February 2008.
to as ‘‘flow liquefaction and (or) cyclic liquefaction possi-
D.A. Shuttle.2 Department of Civil Engineering, University of ble.’’ It would therefore appear that Fig. 16 was intended
British Columbia, 6250 Applied Science Lane, Vancouver, BC for use in predicting both flow and cyclic liquefaction. We
V6T 1Z4, Canada. were interested in both types of liquefaction, so we think
J. Cunning. Golder Associates Ltd., 500 – 4260 Still Creek the use of Fig. 16 is appropriate in that context. As the
Drive, Burnaby, BC V5C 6C6, Canada. discusser states, however, the statically liquefiable Rose
1Appears in Canadian Geotechnical Journal, 45: 140–141. Creek tailings plotted in zone B are classified as ‘‘lique-
2Corresponding author (e-mail: dshuttle@civil.ubc.ca). faction unlikely.’’ The 1998 reference does add a caveat

Can. Geotech. J. 45: 142–145 (2008) doi:10.1139/T07-119 # 2008 NRC Canada

Shuttle and Cunning 143

Fig. 1. Example of the effect of on deviator stress under undrained triaxial conditions.

that the methodology presented does not apply to soils clas- Figure 2 shows the form of CPT screening plot that should
sified as clayey silt, silty clay, or clay and that for these ma- be used, based on the numerical results, presented in the paper.
terials of with Ic,RW > 2.6, samples should be obtained and This proposed chart is the proper form for the discusser’s Fig. 1,
evaluated using other criteria. But as shown in our Fig. 4, automatically including the measured Bq data. We show in
the Rose Creek silt is classified as organic, not clayey, over Fig. 2 the discusser’s demarcation for post-liquefaction strain
much of the depth range of interest. Robertson and Wride softening and strain hardening as suggested in the discusser’s
also state that it is reasonable to assume, in general, that soils Fig. 1. Only the region of F < 2% is shown because in this
with Ic,RW > 2.6 are nonliquefiable. This is confusing, and the region any Bq value ranges from small to 0 (and hence the
suggestion by the discusser to abandon the CPT and adopt trend line in the discusser’s Fig. 1 can be transposed directly).
other test methods in this situation is unnecessary. We have also added the Plewes et al. (1992) line, interpolated
In defending the Robertson and Wride (1998) method, it is for = –0.05, and converted from mean to vertical stress us-
interesting that the discusser went back to Bq data. One of the ing a representative K0 = 0.7. As the discusser notes, the
basic objections to using this method with finer grained soils Plewes et al. line has the same form as that in the discusser’s
is that it ignores these Bq data, despite the data being ob- Fig. 1, and our Fig. 2 suggests that if reasonable K0 values are
tained at no additional cost during the site investigation (as- assumed, Fig. 1 likely represents the & –0.05 criterion.
suming a modern CPTu). Further, the referenced Q–Bq chart Figure 2 also incorporates the measured data for SCPT03-
(Robertson 1990) was shown to incorrectly classify some 21 of the paper within the depth range of 6–11 m to focus on
soils (Jefferies and Davies 1991). However, this leads to the silt layer of interest. The field data are supplemented by
what we regard as one of the main contributions of the paper, the inferred trend for the Rose Creek tailings centred on an
namely Fig. 17. This figure shows that the computed soil be- average Ic = 3.4 for these tailings and taking K0 = 0.7. Lastly,
haviour, for constant properties, normalizes to a single trend we have included calibration chamber test data for Ticino
line with if the CPT variable group Qp(1 – Bq) + 1 is used. sand (Baldi et al. 1982), together with a previously published
This is a quite remarkable result, with widespread utility, as calibration to this sand (Shuttle and Jefferies 1998) at a stress
it clarifies how the three CPT measurements should be level of 200 kPa. Dots have been placed on the trend lines,
brought into a single plot. If some scatter caused by neglect- indicating increments of 0.05 in along the trend line and
ing K0 is acceptable, then a proper screening plot, based on with the critical state identified. We note in passing that F
mechanics, is Q(1 – Bq) + 1 versus F. appears to be a better indicator of soil properties than Ic.
The discusser’s suggestion that the way forward is to in- As the discusser notes, there is a considerable uniformity of
clude further geological factors, such as the plasticity index, view among various workers. The uniformity is especially
is surprising. At best, these geological factors are poorly striking once it is recognized that something less than = 0
correlated with mechanical behaviour. Instead, measurable is needed as the criterion separating the potential for a post-
soil properties, such as the slope of the critical state line liquefaction flow slide from cyclic mobility with limited
(CSL), can be used together with a numerical model to com- strain potential. Indeed, the Robertson (2008) criterion is
pute their effect on soil behaviour. Doing this is straightfor- very close to the demarcation line we suggest using the
ward, and relying on computed behaviour will avoid a < –0.05 criterion. Extending this agreement to finer grained
further iteration in a few years when the classification crite- soils, we have indicated a line that goes through the computed
ria are revised, yet again, with further poorly correlated fac- and calibrated Rose Creek data. This extension to the Rose
tors being introduced. In reality, there is no need to continue Creek tailings behaviour appears slightly more conservative
with an empirical geological approach when appropriate nu- than the discusser’s trend but may be reasonable because Mtc =
merical methods exist to compute what is needed. 1.25 measured for the tailings is typical of natural soils.
# 2008 NRC Canada
144 Can. Geotech. J. Vol. 45, 2008

Fig. 2. Update of modified CPT soil behaviour type chart to illustrate flow slide potential.

We close by noting that Fig. 2 should be treated as pre- ings of the 2nd European Symposium on Penetration Testing
liminary. Additional data from a range of sites are needed. (ESOPT-2), Amsterdam, 24–27 May 1992. Edited by A. Verruijt,
The influence of stress level, critical friction angle, and F.L. Beringen, and E.H. de heeuw. A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam, the
slope of the CSL on the chart should be established by fur- Netherlands.
ther numerical analysis. We plan to contribute additional re- Gajo, A., and Wood, D.M. 1999. Severn–Trent sand, a kinematic
sults using other data from the files of Golder Associates hardening constitutive model: the q–p formulation. Géotechni-
Ltd. and hope others will also be encouraged to contribute que, 49: 595–614.
Imam, S.M.R., Morgenstern, N.R., Robertson, P.K., and Chan, D.H.
their own data and analysis. A consensus and expanded
2005. A critical-state constitutive model for liquefiable sand. Ca-
Fig. 2 should be of widespread interest and utility.
nadian Geotechnical Journal, 42: 830–855. doi:10.1139/t05-014.
Jefferies, M.G., and Davies, M.P. 1991. Soil classification by the
References cone penetration test: Discussion. Canadian Geotechnical Journal,
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numerical procedures for the analysis of soil liquefaction pro- Li, X.-S., Dafailias, Y.F., and Wang, Z.-L. 1999. State dependent di-
blems. Vols. 1 and 2. A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam, the Netherlands. latancy in critical state constitutive modelling of sand. Canadian
1801 pp. Geotechnical Journal, 36: 599–611. doi:10.1139/cgj-36-4-599.
Baldi, G., Bellotti, R., Ghionna, V., Jamiolkowski, M., and Pasqua- Manzari, M.T., and Dafalias, Y.F. 1997. A critical state two-
lini, E. 1982. Design parameters for sand from CPT. In Proceed- surface plasticity model for sands. Géotechnique, 47: 255–272.

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Shuttle and Cunning 145

Plewes, H.D., Davies, M.P., and Jefferies, M.G. 1992. CPT based Shuttle, D.A., and Jefferies, M.G. 1998. Dimensionless and un-
screening procedure for evaluating liquefaction susceptibility. In biased CPT interpretation in sand. International Journal for Nu-
Proceedings of the 45th Canadian Geotechnical Conference, merical and Analytical Methods in Geomechanics, 22: 351–391.
Toronto, Ont., 26–28 October 1992. Canadian Geotechnical so- doi:10.1002/(SICI)1096-9853(199805)22:5<351::AID-
ciety, Alliston, Ont. Vol. 4, pp. 1–9. NAG921>3.0.CO;2-8.
Robertson, P.K. 1990. Soil classification using the cone penetration Wan, R.G., and Guo, P.J. 1998. A simple constitutive model for gran-
test. Canadian Geotechnical Journal, 27: 151–158. doi:10.1139/ ular soils: modified stress-dilatancy approach. Computers and
cgj-27-1-151. Geotechnics, 22: 109–133. doi:10.1016/S0266-352X(98)00004-4.
Robertson, P.K., and Wride, C.E. 1998. Evaluating cyclic liquefac-
tion potential using the cone penetration test. Canadian Geotech-
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# 2008 NRC Canada