This thesis describes the conduct and interpretation of large scale direct shear testing of municipal solid waste (MSW) which was recently conducted at Arizona State University under the guidance of Dr. Edward Kavazanjian Jr. This research was performed to establish the shear strength parameters for MSW of a particular landfill in the eastern United States. As part of this research, the unit weight of the material of interest was recorded to help establish if the properties of the waste tested in this project were consistent with the properties of MSW reported in the technical literature.
The paper begins with an overview of scholarly articles on shear strength and unit weight of MSW. This overview summarizes trends found in other MSW investigations. The findings described in these articles served as a basis to determine if the direct shear test results in this investigation complied with typical values reported in other MSW investigations.
A majority of this thesis is dedicated to describing testing protocol, nuances of experimental execution, and test results of the direct shear tests. This culminates in an analysis of the shear strength parameters and consolidated unit weight exhibited by the MSW tested herein. Throughout the testing displacement range of 3.5 inches, none of the MSW specimens achieved a peak shear stress. Consequently, the test results were analyzed at displacements of 1.7 inches, 2.1 inches, and 2.4 inches during the tests to develop Mohr-Coulomb envelopes for each specified displacement. All three envelopes indicated that the cohesion of the material was effectively 0 psf). The interpreted angles of internal friction were of 30.6°, 33.7°, and 36.0° for the displacements of 1.7, 2.1, and 2.4 inches, respectively. These values correlate well with values from previous investigations, indicating that from a shear strength basis the waste tested in this project was typical of MSW from other landfills. Analysis of the consolidated unit weight of the MSW specimens also suggests the MSW was similar to in-situ MSW which was placed in a landfill with low levels of compaction and small amounts of cover soil.
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