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# Description of Cam-Clay and Modified-Cam-Clay Critical State Strength Models

Introduction
The first critical state models for describing the behaviour of soft soils such as clay, the Cam-Clay (CC) and
Modified Cam-Clay (MCC) were formulated by researchers at Cambridge University. Both models describe three
important aspects of soil behaviour:
(i) Strength
(ii) Compression or dilatancy (the volume change that occurs with shearing)
(iii) Critical state at which soil elements can experience unlimited distortion without any changes in stress or
volume.

A large proportion of the volume occupied by a soil mass consists of voids that may be filled by fluids (primarily air
and water). As a result, deformations in soil are accompanied by significant, and often non-reversible, volume
changes. A major advantage of cap plasticity models, a class to which the CC and MCC formulations belong, is their
ability to model volume changes more realistically.

The primary assumptions of the CC and MCC models are described next. In critical state mechanics, the state of a
soil sample is characterized by three parameters:
Effective mean stress
'
p
Deviatoric (shear stress) q , and
Specific volume .
Under general stress conditions, the mean stress,
'
p , and the devaitoric stress, q , can be calculated in terms of
principal stresses
'
1
,
'
2
and
'
3
as
( )
' ' ' '
1 2 3
1
3
p = + +
( ) ( ) ( )
2 2 2
' ' ' ' ' '
1 2 2 3 3 1
1
2
q = + +

The specific volume is defined as 1 e = + , where e is the void ratio.

Virgin Consolidation Line and Swelling Lines
The models assume that when a soft soil sample is slowly compressed under isotropic stress conditions
( )
' ' ' '
1 2 3
p = = = , and under perfectly drained conditions, the relationship between specific volume, , and
'
ln p
consists of a straight virgin consolidation line (also known as the normal compression line) and a set of straight

The loading and unloading behaviour of the CC and MCC models is best described with an example. When a soil
element is first loaded to isotropic stress
'
b
p , on the plane of ln p , it moves down the virgin consolidation line
from point a to point b. If the sample is unloaded the specific volumemean stress behaviour moves up the swelling
line bc to the point c.

If the sample is now reloaded to a stress
'
d
p , it will first move down the swelling line for stress values up to
'
b
p .
Once
'
b
p is exceeded, the sample will again move down the virgin consolidation line to the point d. If the sample is
then unloaded to a stress value of
'
a
p , this time it will move up the swelling line de .

The virgin consolidation line in Figure 1 is defined by the equation
'
ln v N p = ,
while the equation for a swelling line has the form
'
ln
s
v v p = .

The values , and N are characteristic properties of a particular soil. is the slope of the normal compression
(virgin consolidation) line on ln ' v p plane, while is the slope of swelling line. N is known as the specific
volume of normal compression line at unit pressure, and is dependent on the units of measurement. As can be seen
on Figure 1,
s
v differs for each swelling line, and depends on the loading history of a soil.

If the current state of a soil is on the virgin consolidation (normal compression) line the soil is described as being
normally consolidated. If the soil is unloaded such as is described by the line bc , it becomes overconsolidated. In
general, soil does not exist outside the virgin consolidation line; when it does that state is unstable.

The Critical State Line
Sustained shearing of a soil sample eventually leads to a state in which further shearing can occur without any
changes in stress or volume. This means that at this condition, known as the critical state, the soil distorts at
constant state of stress with no volume change. This state is called the Critical State and characterized by the Critical
State Line (CSL). In p q plane the CSL is a straight line passing through the origin with the slope equal to M ,
one of the characteristic of the material (see Fig. 3).

The location of this line relative to the normal compression line is shown on Figure 2. As seen in the picture, the
CSL is parallel to the virgin consolidation line in ln ' v p space. The parameter is the specific volume of the CSL
at unit pressure. Like N , the value of depends on measurement units.

There is a relationship between the parameter N of the normal compression line and . For the Cam-Clay model
the two parameters are related by the equation
( ) N = ,
while for the Modified Cam-Clay model the relationship is
( ) ln 2 N = .
Due to this relationship between N and , only one of them needs to be specified when describing a Cam-Clay or
Modified Cam-Cam material.

Yield Functions
The yield functions of the CC and MCC models aree determined from the following equations:
Cam-Clay
'
'
'
ln 0
o
p
q Mp
p
| |
+ =
|
\ .

Modified Cam-Clay
' 2
2
'2 '
1 0
o
p q
M
p p
| |
+ =
|
\ .

In
'
p q space, the CC yield surface is a logarithmic curve while the MCC yield surface plots as an elliptical curve
(Figure 3). The parameter
'
o
p (known as the yield stress or pre-consolidation pressure) controls the size of the yield
surface. The parameter M is the slope of the CSL in
'
p q space. A key characteristic of the CSL is that it
intersects the yield curve at the point at which the maximum value of q is attained.

In three-dimensional space
'
v p q the yield surface defined by the CC or MCC formulation is known as the State
Boundary Surface. The State Boundary Surface for the Modified Cam-Clay model is shown in Figure 4.

Elastic Material Constants for Cam-Clay and Modified Cam-Clay
In geotechnical engineering, the elastic material constants commonly used to relate stresses to strains are Youngs
modulus, E , shear modulus, G , Poissons ratio, , and bulk modulus, K . Only two of these parameters must be
specified in an analysis.

In soil modelling, the more fundamental elastic parameters of shear modulus, G , and bulk modulus, K , are
preferred. This is because they allow the effects of volume change and distortion to be decoupled.

For Cam-Clay and Modified Cam-Clay soils, the bulk modulus is not constant. It depends on mean stress,
'
p ,
specific volume, , and the slope of the swelling line, , and is calculated as

vp
K

=

Cam-Clay and Modified Cam-Clay formulations require specification of either shear modulus G or Poissons ratio
. When G is given as a constant then is no longer a constant, and is calculated from the equation

3 2
2 6
K G
G K

=
+
.

When is given as a constant then G is determined using the relationship

3(1 2 )
2(1 )
G K

=
+

The Overconsolidation Ratio
The current state of a soil can be described by its stress state (mean effective stress
'
p ), specific volume, , and
yield stress,
o
p (also known as preconsolidation pressure is a measure of the highest stress level the soil has ever
experienced). The ratio of preconsolidation pressure to current mean effective stress is known as the
overconsolidation ratio (OCR), i.e.

'
o
p
OCR
p
= .

The in-situ distribution of preconsolidation pressure for a Cam-Clay or Modified Cam-Clay material can be
generated using the OCR. An OCR value of 1 represents a normal consolidation state; a state in which the
maximum stress level previously experienced by a material is not larger than the current stress level. OCR > 1
describes an overconsolidated state indicating that the maximum stress level experienced by the material is larger
than the present stress level.

Hardening and Softening Behaviour
If yielding occurs to the right of the point at which the CSL intersects a yield surface, hardening behaviour,
accompanied by compression, is exhibited. This side of the yield surface is known as the wet or subcritical side.

Figure 5a illustrates the soil behaviour on the wet side for the case of simple shearing. When a sample is sheared, it
behaves elastically until it hits the initial yield surface. From then on the yield surface begins to grow/expand and
exhibits hardening behaviour (yielding and plastic strain is accompanied by an increase in yield stress). The figure
shows two intermediate growth stages of the yield surface. At the point C, the sample reaches critical state at which
it will continue to distort without any accompanying changes in shear stress or volume. Figure 5b portrays the stress-
strain hardening behaviour that occurs for the sample loaded on the wet side.

If yielding occurs to the left of the intersection of the CSL and yield surface (called the dry or supercritical side), the
soil material exhibits softening behaviour, which is accompanied by dilatancy (increase in volume). In softening
regimen the yield stress curve decreases after the stress state touches the initial envelope. To depict the reduction in
yield stress curve, the loading line in Figure 6a doubles back. The yield curve and sustained load move downwards
until the sample comes to the critical state. The softening stress-strain curve for dry side loading is shown on Figure
6b.

Specification of Initial States for Cam-Clay and Modified Cam-Clay Models
To compute models involving Cam-Clay or Modified Cam-Clay materials, non-trivial initial effective stresses must
be specified. Phase
2
allows specification of gravity in-situ stresses or a constant stress field.
Next, the initial state of consolidation (initial yield surfaces for all stress states) must be specified. This can be done
in one of two ways:
(a) Specification of the OCR, or
(b) Specification of a pre-consolidation stress,
o
p
If a current stress state completely lies within a specified yield surface, the soil will initially respond elastically to
loading. This implies that it is overconsolidated. If, however, the initial stress state is located on the yield surface, the
soil will respond elasto-plastically upon loading, indicating that it is normally consolidated.
Since initial stress states that lie outside yield surfaces have no physical meaning for Cam-Clay and Modified Cam-
Clay models, Phase
2
will not allow them. If such stress states are specified, Phase
2
will change the pre-consolidation
stress to a value (see below) that makes the soil normally consolidated. If in a model an initial mean effective
pressure is negative, Phase
2
warn about the occurrence and will not compute the model.
Specification of Initial Consolidation State for Gravity Loading
Case I: When OCR is specified
(a) Determine vertical stress distribution, '
v

(b) Determine horizontal stresses, '
h
, using
o
K
(c) For each element, calculate mean effective stress, ' p , and deviatoric stress, q
(d) Calculate pre-consolidation pressure,
*
o
p , such that
( )
*
', , 0
o
F p q p =
For Cam-Clay:
* '
'
q
Mp
o
p p e =
For Modified Cam-Clay:
2
*
2
'
'
o
q
p p
M p
= +
(e) Set initial element pre-consolidation pressure,
o
p , equal to
*
o o
p p OCR =
(f) Set initial element specific volume,
init
v , to be consistent with
o
p and the specified parameters M, , and
'
ln ln
init
o
o
p
v N p
p

| |
=
|
\ .

Case II: When pre-consolidation pressure,
o
p , is initially specified
(a) Determine vertical stress distribution, '
v

(b) Determine horizontal stresses, '
h
, using
o
K
(c) For each element, calculate mean effective stress, ' p , and deviatoric stress, q
(d) Calculate pre-consolidation pressure
*
o
p such that
( )
*
', , 0
o
F p q p =
For Cam-Clay:
* '
'
q
Mp
o
p p e =
For Modified Cam-Clay:
2
*
2
'
'
o
q
p p
M p
= +
(e) Set initial element pre-consolidation pressure,
o
p , equal to
( )
*
,
max ,
o o o specified
p p p =
(f) Set initial element specific volume,
init
v , to be consistent with
o
p and the specified parameters M, , and
'
ln ln
init
o
o
p
v N p
p

| |
=
|
\ .

Specification of Initial Consolidation State for Constant In-situ Stress Field
The specification of initial states for a constant stress field is the same as for gravity loading except that initial
effective vertical and horizontal stresses do not have to be determined.

Summary of Input Parameters for Cam-Clay and Modified Cam-Clay Materials
Specification of Cam-Clay and Modified Cam-Clay models requires five material parameters. These parameters are
outlined below.
1. the slope of the normal compression (virgin consolidation) line and critical state line (CSL) in ln ' v p
space
2. the slope of a swelling (reloading-unloading) line in ln ' v p space
3. M the slope of the CSL in ' q p space
N the specific volume of the normal compression line at unit pressure
4. or
the specific volume of the CSL at unit pressure

Poissons ratio
5. or
G shear modulus.

The initial state of consolidation of such materials must also be specified. This is accomplished by indicating
OCR the overconsolidation ratio: the ratio of the previous maximum mean stress to the current mean stress
or

o
p the preconsolidation pressure.

Remark on the application of Cam-Clay and Modified Cam-Clay models in FE analyses:

The Cam-Clay and Modified Cam-Clay models may allow for unrealistically large ratios of shear stress over mean
stress when the stress state is above the critical state line. Furthermore, these models predict a softening behaviour
for the state of stress on the dry side of the yield surface. Without special considerations, the softening behaviour
leads to mesh dependency of a finite element analysis. The use of these two models in simulations of practical
applications including general boundary valued problems is not recommended.
Figure 1. Behaviour of soil sample under isotropic compression.

Figure 2. Location of CSL relative to virgin compression line.

v
ln p
Virgin consolidation line
(Normal compression line) N

1
1
vs1
vs2
Swelling lines
a
c
e
b
d
1 pb
pd
ln

v
N

Virgin compression
li
CSL

Figure 3. Cam-Clay and Modified Cam-Clay yield surfaces (in
' '
p q ) space. The parameter M is the slope of the
CSL.

p
q
Critical State Line
(CSL)
Modified Cam-Clay (MCC)
yield curve
Cam-Clay (CC)
yield curve
M
1
p
o

Figure 4. The State Boundary Surface for the Modified Cam-Clay model.

p
p
q
v
State boundary
surface
CSL
Figure 5a. Evolution of the yield curve on the wet side of Modified Cam-Clay under simple shearing.

Figure 5b. Hardening stress-strain response on wet side of Modified Cam-Clay material under simple shearing.
shear strain
q
p
q
CSL
Initial yield surface
Yield surface at
critical state
C
wet or subcritical
(hardening behaviour)
Figure 6a. Evolution of the yield curve on the dry side of Modified Cam-Clay under simple shearing.

Figure 6b. Softening stress-strain response on dry side of Modified Cam-Clay material under simple shearing.

p
q
CSL
Initial yield surface
Yield surface at
critical state
C
Dry or supercritical
(softening behaviour)
shear strain
q

Modified Cam-Clay model: Implicit integration of the constitutive equations
The numerical integration method for the modified Cam-Clay model is presented here. The formulation is almost
the same as what is presented in an article by Borja (1991).

Nonlinear elastic behaviour
In the formulation of Cam-Clay model the bulk modulus of the material is dependent on the mean stress,
'
p ,
specific volume, v , and the slope of the swelling line, ,

vp
K

=

Thus, the relationship between the rate of mean stress,
'
p , and the rate of elastic volumetric strain,
e
v
, can be
written as

e e
v v
vp
p K

= =

Integrating the above equation over a finite time increment (step n to 1 n + ), assuming that the change in specific
volume is insignificant, results in the following incremental equation

1
exp
e n
n n v
v
p p

+
| |
=
|
\ .

Assuming an average bulk modulus from step n to 1 n + one can write

1
e
n n v
p p p K
+
= =

Based on the above equations, the average bulk modulus over step n to 1 n + can be obtained as follow

exp 1
e n n
v e
v
p v
K

( | |
=
( |

\ .

In case the shear modulus is not constant, i.e. the poisons ration is constant, the shear modulus can be calculated as

(3 6 )
2(1 )
G rK K

= =
+

Integration of elasto-plastic constitutive equations
The mechanical behaviour of a wide range of elasto-plastic materials can be characterized by means of a set of
constitutive relations in the general form of

( ) , 0 F = ;
( )
.
ij
Q const =
e p
= +
e e
= D
p
Q

p
Q

=

In the equations above, F is the yield function, Q is the plastic potential, and are the stress and strain
tensors/vectors,
e
D is the elastic constitutive tensor/matrix,

## is the plastic multiplier and is the hardening

parameter. The superscript e and p stand for elastic and plastic. The above equations are yield and plastic
potential functions, the additivity postulate that allows division of the increment of total strain into the elastic and
plastic parts, the generalized Hookes law, flow rule and the hardening rule, respectively.

In the modified Cam-Clay model the constitutive equations are much simpler to deal with if they are expressed in
terms of stress/strain invariants. The set of constitutive equations, considering an implicit integration scheme, are
presented below

( )
2
1
1 1 1 0 2 1
0
n
n n n
n
q
F p p p
M
+
+ + +
+
( = + =

Yield function and plastic potential

1
1
3
e
n n v
e
n n q
p p K
q q G

+
+
= +

`
= +

)
Hookes law

e p
v v v
e p
q q q

= +

`
= +

)

1
1
p
v
n
p
q
n
F
d
p
F
d
q

+
+
| |
=
|

\ .
`
| |

=
|

\ .
)
The flow rule

( ) ( )
0 0
1
exp
p
n v
n n
p p

+
| |
=
|

\ .
Hardening/softening rule

Form the definition of the yield function one can obtain:

( )
1 0
1
1
1
2
1
2
2
n
n
n
n
n
F
p p
p
q F
q M
+
+
+
+
+
| |
=
|

\ .
| |
=
|

\ .

The set of constitutive equations presented above can be simplified in a nonlinear set of equations with 4 equations
and 4 unknowns

( ( )
1 1 0
1
, , ,
n n
n
p q p d
+ +
+
) 4 independent unknowns

( ) ( ) ( )
( )
( ) ( ) ( ) ( )
1 1 1 0
1
1
2 1 2
2
1
3 1 1 0 2 1
4 0 0 1 0
1 1
exp 2 0
2
3 0
0
exp 2 0
n
n n v n
n
n
n n q
n
n n
n
n
n
n n n
g p p d p p
q
g q q G d
M
q
g p p p
M
g p p d p p

+ +
+
+
+
+
+ +
+
+
+ +
(
= =
(

(
= + =

(

`

( = + =

| |

= =
|

\ . )
4 independent nonlinear equations

The integration/solution algorithm for a material point starts from an initial state of stress and hardening parameters
( ( )
0
, , ,
n n n
n
p q p ) with the introduction of the increment of strains (
v
,
q
).
The solution algorithm is based on a Newton iterative technique and follows these steps, sequentially:

1- Initializing the unknown variables:

1 n n
p p
+
= ,
1 n n
q q
+
= , ( ) ( )
0 0
1 n n
p p
+
= , 0 d =

2- Calculate the
i
g functions, and check if they are all close enough to zero. If yes terminate the process, if not go
to step 3 to modify the current values of unknowns.

3- Update the unknowns by solving the linear system of equations presented below, and then go to step2. The term
, i j
g represents the partial derivative of the function
i
g with respect to the j th variable.

( )
1 1,1 1,2 1,3 1,4 1
1 2,1 2,2 2,3 2,4 2
0 3,1 3,2 3,3 3,4 3 1
4,1 4,2 4,3 4,4 4
1
n
n
n
n
p g g g g g
q g g g g g
p g g g g g
g g g g g dp
+
+
+
+
(
(

(
=
` `
(

(

) )

After finding the updated state of stress and state variables, i.e. ( )
1 1 0
1
, , ,
n n
n
p q p
+ +
+
, the transformation to general
state of stress, , is straightforward.

Cam-Clay model: Explicit integration of the constitutive equations
The numerical integration method for the Cam-Clay model is presented here. The formulation is based on the
classical plasticity as the integrations process takes advantage of an explicit scheme.

Nonlinear elastic behaviour
In the formulation of Cam-Clay model the bulk modulus of the material is dependent on the mean stress,
'
p ,
specific volume, v , and the slope of the swelling line, ,
vp
K

=

Considering an explicit scheme over a finite time increment (step n to 1 n + ), the bulk modulus will be calculated
based on the state of the material at step n .

n n
n
v p
K

=

In case the shear modulus is not constant, i.e. the poisons ration is constant, the shear modulus can be calculated as

(3 6 )
2(1 )
n n n
G rK K

= =
+

Integration of elasto-plastic constitutive equations
The mechanical behaviour of a wide range of elasto-plastic materials can be characterized by means of a set of
constitutive relations in the general form

( ) , 0 F = ;
( )
.
ij
Q const =
e p
= +
e e
= D
p
Q

p
Q

=

In the equations above, F is the yield function, Q is the plastic potential, and are the stress and strain
tensors/vectors,
e
D is the elastic constitutive tensor/matrix,

## is the plastic multiplier and is the hardening

parameter. The superscript e and p stand for elastic and plastic. The above equations are yield and plastic
potential functions, the additivity postulate that allows division of the increment of total strain into the elastic and
plastic parts, the generalized Hookes law, flow rule and the hardening rule, respectively.

Like the Modified Cam Clay model, in Cam-Clay model the constitutive equations are much simpler to deal with if
they are expressed in terms of stress/strain invariants. The set of constitutive equations, considering an explicit
integration scheme, are presented below

0
ln 0
p
F q Mp
p
| |
= + =
|
\ .
; 0 dF = Yield function and plastic potential; The consistency condition

1
e e
n n n +
= + = + D Hookes law

e p
= + The additivity postulate

p
n
F
d
| |
=
|

\ .

## The flow rule

( ) ( )
0 0
1
exp
p
n v
n n
p p

+
| |
=
|

\ .
Hardening/softening rule

The derivative of the yield function with respect to the stress tensor/vector can be calculated as

F F p F q
p q

= +

Form the definition of the yield function one can obtain:

1
n
n n
n
q F
M
p p
F
q
| |
=
|

\ .
| |
=
|

\ .

The set of constitutive equations presented above can be simplified in one nonlinear equation with one independent
variable, i.e. d , which can be calculated as

0
0
e
e
p
v
F
d
p F F F F
p p